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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

February 19, 2011

It went well today...

I'd give these guys a thumbs up in the horse training department.  We started out really high headed, stiff necked, and bracey. 

But as the time and methods progressed she got softer.
And her head gradually got lower....

He showed me  not only how to get some bend and a head set going, but how to disengage her hip when she gets brain frazzled and does "the wrong thing." 

In the beginning the trainer was doubtful of using the hackamore for this process.  It was a little sticky at first because she didn't get what we were asking.  Once she figured it out we did okay in the soft hack.  A bit likely would have been quicker to find the result, but she's never been bitted...

Then we moved on to canter transitions.  She just didn't want to do the trainer got on and worked with her for awhile and got her through all the nasty mare ears and one half hearted buck (which he corrected using the disengaging technique).  She went off on the wrong leads a few times but pretty soon he had her moving really pretty in a big circle with a beautiful headset.  She had been working for almost three hours at this point and she was getting tired right when we were asking the most from her.  We finished up with me riding the canter in both directions, and ended on that note.   We did most of the work with cars and trucks going by as the barn is set right on the curve of a highway.  So I was impressed that what we were doing was working even with the distraction of vehicles, and the strange environment, and other horses.  He tried to give me the tools to work with this out on the trail in training as well as in competition.  He said I'm going to have some pretty slow times for awhile, but I said it didn't matter because I just want to get her going RIGHT.

For the record:  He said I've done a really nice job with this horse.  What I lacked is knowledge of the correct method to communicate what I want from her to get refinement, and to get her focused on me rather than "out there."   He also said she is a very smart horse. 

Daren's (the trainer) wife Jen is an equine massage therapist.  When we finished she checked her all over to see if she had any trigger points that indicate pain anywhere to see if perhaps chiropractic adjustment may be of benefit to her.  She said she could find absolutely NONE.   She said if Phebes continues to have issues at the canter that it would be worth trying a chiropractice adjustment on the off chance that something is out of place, but from the best she could tell Phebes seemed fine (and she's built like a tank *lol*).

Phebes was so good today, and once she finally relaxed she tried so hard to please.

It was an awful LOT TO TAKE IN.  Hoping that I can remember enough of it to put it into good use as we hit the training trail tomorrow.   Depending on how things go I will either go back to them in a month, or if I can nail this...look to some kind of  lessons for her on a part-time basis. ~E.G.


  1. This is a method I use frequently. Glad it worked so well :) Love the photos.

  2. Nice to see you are getting some good help. Looks like you are off the right start with this trainer...whenever you and your horse end the lesson more relaxed than when you started, you know you are on the right path..

  3. Could you elaborate on the disengaging the hip thing? How does one do it?

  4. Caitlin,

    What I've done in the past is a lot of one rein stops, which was slide your hand down the rein and pull the head around until she stops.

    So I'm going to have relearn this method until I get some muscle memory going on. His way of doing it hands on the reins are a bit shorter and you bring the rein across the pommel like you were aiming to the opposite side of your belly button which brings her head around , then use leg to get her to step over in the hind at least three full steps, then a complete release. I'm going to have to work this a lot because unless I actively think on it, I fall back into my one-rein stop thing as I've done it for so long.

  5. Why three steps? Why not one ? Does it make the horse remember any better with three steps rather than one? If she steps once, didn't she give you what you were asking? Didn't she try?
    Why use leg? Why not start with just getting the rein to mean something to her feet?

    Just a little food for thought..

  6. Actually Jonna I think I mispoke that. He said it usually takes at least three steps but the actual point is for the horse to disengage the hip step over and STOP. So if they can indeed do this all in one step and cross over on the hind you can give the horse the release. I honestly don't think it is so important how you decide to do it, but be consistent with however you are doing it. I'm going for flexion, disengagement, feet stop.

  7. p.s. I was using "leg" because she was getting stuck, wanting to brace up and not disengage. Does that make sense? If the horse is doing what you want them too then no, you wouldn't add leg. I was just trying to explain what it was taking US to get it done.

  8. p.s.s. (maybe I should just put a big string of s's)

    The reason for the disengagement of the hip is otherwise the acting out horse can still do a lot of things, such as jump sideways with their head cranked round, or even go forward, or backward. His reasoning was take their motor away, and get control.

  9. EG, It sounds like a great training session! For you and for Phebes. So nice that you got some good compliments also! And really good that she finally relaxed and tried so hard. Good girl, Phebes!

  10. I'm sorry I'm so late on coming to comment. But, you know, it snowed here. And if it snows then I don't ride, so no one else rides or blogs, right? Right??

    Anyway, this is so fantastic! I'm so happy for you, EG. I did a lesson with a local trainer who also taught me the disengage the hip thing. It's awesome that the clinic was in such a busy place - that's just what your endurance horse needs, to listen to the rider even when there's terrifying stuff going on all around.

  11. E. G- Thanks for responding.. I have to be honest.. I was testing you!! I am glad to see your response on it and you passed !! ha!ha. The reason I asked is that the hind quarter release (as I call it) is one of those pet peeves of mine.. Alot of trainers teach it and somehow the point of it gets lost in transalation. It's also called the one rein stop. It dirves me crazy when I see people pulling their horse's head around and around and around. That isn't the point of the hind end release. hmm.. maybe I'll do a follow up post.. I feel to urge to get on my soapbox.. BTW- I am glad to see you have an instructor teaching the hind end release correctly. It will save you and your horse in a situation...take it from someone who knows!!