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Icelandic Horse Connection

Starting Three Icelandic Horse Fillies

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"As Clinton Anderson would say, the less you know and the more you flop around a horse, the more de-sensitized they become. It looks like Cary is doing a good job to me of getting her used to someone flopping around on a mounting block!!"

Seriously, I think there's something to that...within reason, of course. Cary makes "mistakes" but the horses know he loves them, and they trust him, so yes, he does help to desensitize them. :) I'm probably giving him a hard time though. He's not totally clueless - some things he's actually pretty good with. We've had horses for 19 years. He's only recently become interested in starting young horses, but he is confident in his handling of them, and that is a very good thing. He's never paid any attention to anyone starting a young one though, so this is new for him.

He made one BIG faux pas today - luckily we saw him before it became a disaster. Actually it was a double mistake, but no one was harmed, horse or human. He wanted to see exactly how much tack he could pile up on poor Maja, and since it didn't seem to be worrying her too much, he just let him do his thing. But, then I turned around, and he had cinched up the saddle - only loosely - AND over the bareback pad that has stirrup rings on it - OUCH. You do NOT use a pad with hardware under a treed saddle...EVER! Not only that, he hadn't gone through enough steps before cinching up the saddles. I've seen young horses get spooked at that point, and take off, and if the saddle slips under their belly, they can really freak out. I would never have a horse take her first steps with a saddle on her back, unless their was no girth at all, or the girth was snug enough that the saddle isn't likely to slip. We got him to take it off before anything bad happened. We take several steps before cinching up snugly too - at first we just hold a lead line around their middle, then we wrap the girth, but just hold it without buckling so we can drop it if necessary. When all that is no-sweat, then we will cinch it...but usually the surcingle or bareback pad first. I can't find my surcingle though...I must have loaned it to someone but I can't remember who.

Our motto: Training is always easier than RETRAINING! We aim for zero remedial work, even if we go very slowly.

We learned that the hard way, from our own mistakes...as well as from the mistakes of others. I so wish I had not made so many of the mistakes I did with Holly. For several reasons, that mare developed a hard brace in her neck - what might be called a "hard mouth" but was actually all over her body, particularly in her head in neck. I took her to a clinic with Dave Seay, and it took even him about two hours to learn to really give to the bit, and he specializes in problem horses. Holly didn't really appear to anyone there to be a "problem horse" - she certainly went through the motions of being well-behaved most of the time. But, until I got her relaxed, we were at a brick wall - I couldn't improve her gaits, I couldn't really do anything with her. I could go on and on with other examples in our herd.

I know I'll never actually achieve the goal of zero remedial work, but at least with it as a goal, we seem to get SLIGHTLY closer to that goal with each young horse we start.

Karen Thomas, NC

I'm including several links below, whichever may be easier for you to view:

Photos, Part 1

Photos, Part 2

Slide Show

Two Separate Albums, Total of 58 pictures



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