Keep ‘Em Happy
Q. Hello, I have a new WP gelding that I am hoping to do the All Around Western Events with. He is four and had had some pretty intense training before we got him. We purchased him knowing that he can get sully, and is sort of moody when it comes time to work. I have an excellent trainer, and since we’ve had him she has already been able to make him happier about doing his job and has put quite a bit of successful training on him. I honestly don’t think he would do as well with someone else. Your post on PH tonight sparked my interest because, he can be difficult to lope off from the stop, or sometimes even transitioning from the walk into the jog. He hates to be nagged on or picked at. We are working on having me know when to scold and when not pick and nag. Like most of them, he seems to know when the trainer is on, and there’s no option Less resistance, but he tends to pin his ears with me.
He is a very nice horse, and I want to have him for a long time. Most important to me though is that he is happy. Any suggestions for his routine? My trainer already breaks up his training, introducing trail, etc. I should also mention that he comes out of his stall with his ears back and gets to pinning them when you’re in his stall at home. He is harmless though and actually enjoys people. I don’t think he was ever given positive feed back before we purchased him.
A. Hi Karen! It sounds like you and your trainer have your new horse headed in the right direction. You mention that he doesn’t like being picked at or nagged, and I’ll have to say that I have yet to come across one that does! It’s a constant learning process and you are no different than any other amateur. As you continue to get to know your horse and improve your own feel and timing, your horse should start to go better and better for you as well and not just your trainer. However this is where job security in my field comes into play. Most horse trainers have spent years and years of long days in the saddle to develop the feel and skill that they have. Keep that in mind as you continue to learn and always look at the big picture and base your own success on how far you have come, try not to measure it against others. When it comes to maintaining your horse, you may be better off letting your trainer do most of the riding and starting or finishing the horse when you ride. This way, you are building on consistency and you can ride more and more as you both get better.
As far as the ear pinning goes, some horses are naturally more territorial in their stalls, just like some dogs are. You can often discourage this behavior by getting after the horse when the initial behavior begins, but it gets harder to stop, the longer this becomes a habit. Some people will go to the extreme, getting after an ear-pinner all the time, which can actually make the problem worse. Use your judgement and pick your battles. One thing I have done in the past actually makes me laugh a bit, but worked… I am not big on giving treats and actually discourage that for my show horses. If I have an owner that wants to give treats, I prefer they put them in the feed tub and not hand feed. However, I used treats on a young filly I had that had required daily shots. This filly had not had much handling when we got her and was very sweet. However because of an injury, she needed some daily shots and attention. I didn’t want her to start getting hard to catch or pinning her ears so every time somebody entered her stall, they gave her a treat and rubbed her neck a bit before proceeding. In this way we avoided some potentially bad habits and kept the filly’s manners and good attitude. There is always a time and a place for getting after one, but when we can keep our horses happy, they tend to enjoy their jobs more.
Best of luck with your new gelding.
Troy Green is a firm believer in the importance of a good foundation for every horse with balance, rhythm, and self-carriage being key. A good foundation equals longevity in the show pen. Troy has won over two dozen All American Quarter Horse Congress Championships in western pleasure, versatility, reining, halter and western riding, and has coached clients to over 50 Congress championships. Troy has three AQHA World Championships and two National Championships under his belt, and has won at all major futurities. He spent three years on the national board of the NSBA.
Troy Green has an extensive background working with youth and amateurs at all levels and of various disciplines. He specializes in pleasure futurity and all around horses.
Now is your chance to have your questions answered by Troy! Just submit your question using the comment section below or the email link, and he will respond to select questions in future posts.