Stall Kicking, Part 1

The reasons for a horse to kick at his stall, unfortunately, vary. However, finding the cause of this annoying behaviour, and stopping it, will save you money on stall doors and wood paneling!

Most times, stall kicking is because a horse wants attention. He sees you coming towards him, and wants to hurry you up – and up until now, this has worked marvellously. This post will focus on stall kicking because the horse wants food. The next will describe the method for dealing with kicking for different reasons.

Keep careful note of when your horse bangs on his stall door or wall. Often it will be when he sees food coming down the isle, or when his food is late (and he knows it!). If this is the case, you need to make a connection for your horse. He needs to realize that kicking makes his food come slower. And since he was kicking to make it come faster, he will soon stop, because the exercise is pointless.

So here’s how you do that. As soon as he starts banging, stop moving towards him and do something else until he stops kicking, even for one second. Then move towards him again. As soon as he begins again, stop moving. A horse’s brain works most efficiently through trial and error, although this is often the method that takes the longest amount of time. However, by being vigilant, you can stop the kicking very effectively.

If this is not working and the kicking problem is only getting worse, try backing up until he stops kicking, then proceeding forward when he stops. By doing this, you will make it even more obvious to the horse that kicking is not gaining him any ground, and in fact he is losing it.

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Barn Management Post Series

I want to know what you think: would you be interested in a barn management post series? All the posts I have right now are about horse training.

Topics could include other training things such as keeping your boards un-chewed, or simpler things like how to save money while keeping your business profitable or your horses healthy.

Please comment on this post and let me know what you think!

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The First Ride, Part 1

You are there! Your horse has been desensitized, leads well in hand, and stands still when you tell him to. He is reliable and obedient. Every time you ask for a particular response, you get that response and no other. You are ready to ride.

For the young horse, the more contact with humans the better. Thus, it is best to ride bareback for the first time. I will warn you now – first, if your horse is not ready, bad things could happen. Make sure he is ready both emotionally and physically before mounting. Second, this will not seem like riding to you. It is more like desensitizing the horse to the presence of a human on his back. As with any desensitizing, this is to be taken slowly. In fact, the slower you go the better your results will be. Slow down, take a step back, relax. You will get to the point of riding eventually. Things that are waited for are often the most rewarding.

This DIY Training post is broken down into steps. Each one should be repeated until the horse shows signs of relaxation. This can be done either before or after desensitizing the horse to the saddle and girthing him up, however, I prefer to ride him before saddling so that the process of riding is broken down as small as possible, so you are not introducing too much at once. So I will describe this as if you are bareback.

Step 1: Jump up and down beside your horse, making no contact with him. It is best to do this step, actually, all of them, on both sides. You never know when you may have to mount from the right side, and you will want a calm horse if you ever have to do this. Continue jumping, with a light contact on the lead rope or reins, until his head goes down, he licks his lips, or shows other signs of relaxation. Then you can move on to the next step.

Step 2: Now you may jump up and down, making contact with your horse. Jump up and slide down his side again, but don’t push him over! Continue until he shows the signs of relaxation.

Step 3: Jump up and hang over his withers. Continue until he is relaxed.

Step 4: Jump up and slide around until you are lying on his back, flat out. Rub his haunches with your feet.

Step 5: Crouch over him by sliding your legs down his sides a little. Don’t sit up straight just yet. Move up and down between lying flat and crouching.

Step 6: Sit up. Your legs may now hang beside his sides where they should be. Resist the urge to tell him to walk forward – he does not know the cue yet.

Step 7: Pat him all over, wherever you can reach. Go slowly and be non-invasive. If you are in the habit of stretching and exercising on your horse when you get on to loosen yourself up, go through your usual exercises now. Now is as good a time as any to get him used to them. Sit in odd positions, but don’t get too crazy.

Alright, that is all for now. Get those down pat, and the next lesson will be the steps to ‘real’ riding!

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Preparing the Young Horse, Part 1

So you have a young horse, which, of course, you will want to ride at some point. So how do you get him to be a quiet, well-trained animal who does exactly what you want, when you want it, with a quiet attitude and a light feel? The place to start is in the Basic Ground Training posts I have laid out. Your horse needs to know all that and more before you can begin to get to the riding stage.

If you have read and are doing the desensitizing lessons, you are already half of the way there. You now need to get a saddle and saddle pads and put them in a place nearby you so you can grab a blanket with one hand and control your horse with the other. You will follow exactly the same process to get your horse used to the saddle and blankets as you did to get him used to a plastic bag. Fold up the blanket and rub him, all over. This should be no big issue if you have done your homework with the bag. Open it up, flap it around a little, even let it flop over his back or on his belly and legs if he is doing exceptionally well and standing perfectly still, not worrying at all about what you are doing. Make sure to do this on both sides. Now act as if the blanket is a saddle and swing it by his side before swinging it up and over, letting it flop heavily on his other side. You may have to saddle from the right at some point, so do this there too. Our goal here is a versatile horse. Then he can specialize and do anything once he has his basic training.

Once both you and he are confident with the blanket and you can put it anywhere on him without him acting up (and if he does, you simply correct him calmly and carry on), you can continue to the saddle. Swing it by his side a lot. Touch him all over with it. Lift it up and down. (yeah, build those muscles!) He should stand relaxed and quiet. During one of your swinging sessions, calmly swing it up and onto his back. Don’t change your attitude at all or he will get that something is going to happen and get all hyped up over nothing. Just swing it up and take it right back off. Then quit! You got what you wanted, and, as with most things, if you quit while you are ahead, you will be even more ahead the next time.

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