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Spring and Forward Impulsion!

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   March 24, 2012 08:46

 

 

Trick Training Philosophy "Train with Trust and Communication"


Trick training is a great way to foster a fabulous relationship with your horse.  In order to have a great relationship, you have to have great trust, and great communication. 

In order to make trick  training enjoyable and achievable by all, I train with grace, rather than force.

Jackie Johnson

 

Spring is a fantastic time to work on anything that requires forward impulsion!  Horses are fresh, and they already have that forward mindset, so using the energy of your horse to your advantage can allow you to get a start on the training season, and clean up some rusty cues.

 

Activities that you can work on include things like collection, lateral work, walking with purpose, haunches, in, flying changes, piaffe, passage and extended trot.  Many times throughout the year it can be a drain to constantly push your horse forward to try and get the necessary energy out of him.  Using spring freshness to burn some energy off in your favor is a great opportunity for some wonderful training sessions that leave you both feeling like you've accomplished something!

 

Never let spring deter you from riding your horse.  If you go into the ride with the right mindset, you don't have to be intimidated by your horses spring energy level, rather you can use his natural desire to work in your favor, and go forward.

Training Tips written by Jackie Johnson, www.stunthorse.com for www.HorseOwnerToday.com

The Inside Scoop on Trick Horses in the Movies

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   March 20, 2012 11:14

 

Trick Training Philosophy "Train with Trust and Communication"


Trick training is a great way to foster a fabulous relationship with your horse.  In order to have a great relationship, you have to have great trust, and great communication. 

In order to make trick  training enjoyable and achievable by all, I train with grace, rather than force.

Jackie Johnson


Although my specialty is the education of trick training to the average horse owner, I do have experience with training horses for movies and live performances and I can speak from experience that proper training of horses for entertainment can, and should be done.

Going back in time, when a movie required a horse to be shot, or 'fall' they were typically tripped up, at a full gallop, by an unseen and tightly strung wire.  Little regard was taken for these poor pioneers of the movie and stunt industry, and many were fatally injured with broken legs, separated shoulders, broken necks, fractured or broken ribs, and the likes.  The hard work of the regional humane societies, and animal welfare organizations, along with the dedication of the foundation professional movie horse trainers, such as the Randall family, Rex Peterson, and others like them, ensured that the use of horses in movies and entertainment changed for the better.  Now, the use of anything BUT a properly trained animal for stunt work in the film and entertainment industry is expressly forbidden, and the monitoring and care of the animals on set is often better than that given to the people!

Specific to the Warhorse movie, the main horse character of "Joey" would have received extensive training after careful selection to ensure suitability for working in the movie industry.  Furthermore, "Joey" also had a selection of highly trained, stunt doubles that worked in the movie as well.  In a 'horse heavy' production, the main character horses always have numerous stunt doubles to perform tasks that the lead horse is not proficient at, or to take over and share duties if the production day extends past a few takes.  Horses are carefully monitored on set, and when the welfare authority restricts the amount of attempts, or 'takes', a horse is allowed to have, they will then allow the stunt double to come in and resume filming while the primary horse is given rest.  This in itself would suggest that the primary horse was used to exhaustion however it is exactly the opposite! Where an average horse owner may work their horse in an arena practicing a reining stop, or lead changes, jumping or collection over and over for an hour or more, a movie horse will only be allowed a handful of 'takes' before being replaced with a stunt double, or given a rest - a clue to this is to look for obvious signs of work, such as sweat.....how many times do you see a horse sweat in a movie vs. how many times have you seen your own horse sweat after being worked in an arena? 

Another consideration with respect to horses in the movie and entertainment industry is the absolute value of a well-trained animal.  There are literally thousands of hours put into the training of primary stunt horses, and a horse that excels in the entertainment industry will work in that field for many, many years.  The investment of time, training, experience, and resources means that the horse owner/trainer/handler and the industry in general, will go above and beyond to protect the investment that they have in their equine star.  Although there are many horse movies, often times the same horse will be used over, and over in different movies because they have been so well trained, and enjoy doing the work.  Gerard Naprous of "The Devil's Horsemen' http://www.thedevilshorsemen.com is a major equine stock trainer and supplier for the European movie industry.  For many years if you saw a white Andalusian type horse rearing, falling down, or 'dying', I believe it was their horse "Pepe".  If I'm not mistaken, Pepe worked in the industry for many years as a valued stunt horse before he was retired, and eventually passed on from old age.  Other horses with long and diverse careers in the movie industry include; the Budweiser Clydesdales - trained by Robin Wiltshire of Turtle Ranch http://www.turtleranch.net , and Hightower - who was trained by Rex Peterson, with notable credits such as - "Runaway Bride", "Black Beauty" (where he played Ginger, the ill-fated mare), and Pilgrim in "The Horse Whisperer".  At 21 years of age, Hightower performed in "the Princess Diaries 2" after which he was retired along with his equally aged friend 'Justin' who played Black Beauty.  After a lifetime of work in the movie industry, and a few years of retirement, Hightower passed at 26 years of age.  After he was trained, Hightower worked in the industry for almost 20 years, and it was well known that he enjoyed every minute of it. 

All things said, and considered, a movie is not just about the actors and stunt workers.  Before even getting to the set, extensive amount of time is spent in makeup and costume where cuts and bruises are skillfully applied by markup artists.  In another location,  the prop crews create things like rubber 'barbed wire', and animation crews (like Industrial Light and Magic http://www.ilm.com ) create animatronics and digitally enhanced visuals to depict extreme emaciation, or emotional scenes that are simply too dangerous, or violent for the real equine actors (such as explosions).   Once the equine actors have finished their live work, the production then moves to the editing room where the film is put together, and edited.  A well edited movie is one which invokes emotion from the audience.  If a movie, such as Warhorse, made you feel pity, sorrow, fear, anger and joy, for "Joey", then the editors did their job well!    For additional information on the equine crew of "Warhorse" check out http://www.americanhumanefilmtv.org/on-the-set-war-horse/    to learn more about the specifics of how to train horses tricks and stunts, visit http://www.stunthorse.com

Training Tips written by Jackie Johnson, www.stunthorse.com for www.HorseOwnerToday.com

Memoirs of a Horse Owner by Sam - Spooking

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   March 7, 2012 12:53

Memoirs of a Horse Owner by Sam

 

Horsemanship ....... it is an art, a science, a tradition and a lifelong journey!

 

The articles written for www.Horseownertoday.com  are a collection of my personal memoirs as a horse owner.  They are about my experiences and about my understanding of horsemanship.  They do not necessarily reflect the opinion of www.Horseownertodaycom.com  and in some cases, they do not reflect the opinion of the majority of horse owners today.  They are about my journey toward understanding a horse.

It is interesting to observe how the older horses deal with the youngster in the herd.   I think they make a significant contribution to her upbringing.  The way that they respond to her influences her behavior and shapes her thinking.  Take spooking, for example.  The youngster always finds a monster lurking in the pasture.  It could be a glove on the fence that wasn't there a minute ago or a barrel that has been moved to a new spot along the fence line or the neighbor's dog out sniffing for new droppings.  But whatever it is, she notices it and gets concerned about it.    

 It seems to me that there is a process that goes on in the herd when the baby finds a monster in the pasture.  Her spooky reaction alerts the herd to the dangerous situation.  And while she is dancing around, the older horses stop what they are doing, lift up their heads and take a look at her monster.  It is almost as if they make a decision about what they are looking at.  

On the rare occasion that they decide "yep that is a monster", one of the older ones will head out and deal with it.  That usually means that some old mangey coyote gets chased out of the pasture or that the neighbor's dog has to high tail it for home. 

Often as not, there isn't really a monster in the pasture and it is almost as if the older horses say "oh that's just a ......".  Usually one of them will nonchalantly walk up to her monster and wait beside it until she gathers up enough courage to come in for a closer look.  

Either way the youngster’s concerns are acknowledged and resolved or her comfort is restored. 

Horses are hardwired for fight or flight.  They operate out of the inherent need for self-preservation.  Spooking is about the horse's need for survival.  The youngster hasn't been on earth for very long so sometimes normal everyday things can upset her sense of security.  She relies on the older horses to help her sort through the things that are worrisome to her.   She is willing to trust their judgment. 

The idea that a wiser experienced horse plays a significant role in the training of a younger horse is not new.  Within the traditional vaquero training method, a young horse was trained alongside a wiser more experienced horse.  The vaqueros believed that the older horse helped the youngster to accept new things.  Perhaps their philosophy was based on the belief that communication occurred between the two horses or perhaps their philosophy was based on the younger horse's tendency to follow or mimicking an older horse.  Either way it was how things were done in the vaquero style of training. 

 

Copyright @HorseOwnerToday.com, for reprint permission contact info@horseownertoday.com

   

 

Jackie Johnson on Driving using a Bucking Strap

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   March 5, 2012 12:14

Trick Training Philosophy "Train with Trust and Communication"
Trick training is a great way to foster a fabulous relationship with your horse.  In order to have a great relationship, you have to have great trust, and great communication.  In order to make trick  training enjoyable and achievable by all, I train with grace, rather than force. Jackie Johnson

Bucking Strap
If you have a driving horse, or if you’re thinking of getting into single horse driving, then a “bucking strap” could be your most valuable piece of equipment. Often referred to as “the cheapest piece of insurance you can have as a driver”, the bucking strap is a very unassuming piece of leather that goes from the top of the horses harness (on the hip, above the crupper) down to the shafts on either side of the horse. If the horse were to get frisky, or buck for any other reason, the bucking strap causes the horse to lift up the entire weight of the vehicle, thus discouraging the buck. Although the bucking strap doesn't stop the horse from kicking, it does prevent them from getting their back legs over the dashboard of the vehicle, and into an even bigger, or more dangerous situation.
 
I have personally been involved in driving wrecks where the use of a bucking strap would have prevented physical damage to both the horse, and equipment, as well as psychological damage to the horse by preventing the wreck in the first place. In action, the bucking strap is almost a thing of beauty as a reactive horse quickly discovers that the effort of lifting that back end is just too great. A valuable tool that is included on the harness of all of our young driving horses, the bucking strap (like insurance) is something you hope you never need but, in the event of a wreck, it’s sure great to know you have it.

Training Tips written by Jackie Johnson, www.stunthorse.com for www.HorseOwnerToday.com

 

The Zone of Respect

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   March 3, 2012 07:36


 

Trick Training Philosophy "Train with Trust and Communication"
Trick training is a great way to foster a fabulous relationship with your horse.  In order to have a great relationship, you have to have great trust, and great communication.  In order to make trick  training enjoyable and achievable by all, I train with grace, rather than force. Jackie Johnson


Does your horse respect your space? To determine if your horse does, or doesn’t respect your space, ask him to back up without touching him, or his lead rope. Horses who respect you as their leader should willingly back out of your space when you walk towards them and say, "Back!". If you can succeed at this simple exercise, great!!! But what do you do if your horse just stands there and ignores you? When a horse doesn't respect your space, he's actually showing you a very subtle form of disrespect.
 
We are often unaware of when horses are testing their limits, and when a subtle challenge of leadership goes unnoticed, it can quickly turn into a big problem! If your horse doesn't respectfully back out of your space, then a few sharp tugs on the lead rope, and if necessary, a physical touch on the chest help reinforce the fact that they need to give you that zone of respect. Try to avoid getting into a pushing match, rather make your corrections crisp, and meaningful. Ultimately, your goal is to have your horse step out of your space when you step into HIS space. The one who controls their space is the leader in the horse world.

 Training Tips written by Jackie Johnson, www.stunthorse.com for www.HorseOwnerToday.com

Getting Out And About

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 24, 2012 07:56

 

Trick Training Philosophy "Train with Trust and Communication"
Trick training is a great way to foster a fabulous relationship with your horse.  In order to have a great relationship, you have to have great trust, and great communication.  In order to make trick  training enjoyable and achievable by all, I train with grace, rather than force. Jackie Johnson


Oh that dreaded time of year.  That time when you haven't been riding much due to the weather, and your horse is feeling frisky and fresh.  Frisky horses that have been cooped up for any length of time can be a challenge to even the most experienced horseman. If riding a horse in this state of energy seems like an unappealing challenge, consider just taking him for a walk on the lead instead!
 
Taking your horse for a pleasure walk on the lead is not something that people generally think of.  When you think spending time with your horse, that time spent generally equates to riding time.  Going for a walk down the lane, or road is an excellent bonding exercise that gives your horse a change of scenery, and exercises his mind.  These walks also allow you to reinforce your role as the leader, and assess whether or not your horse is respecting you - by walking with his head at your shoulder where it belongs.  The walks can also be 'mini-adventures' where you and your horse investigate the things that he identifies as 'spooky'.  You can gain some serious leadership points when you show your horse that the monster he is deathly afraid of is just a silly old rock, or tree, and that kind of trust, and leadership, on the ground becomes trust, and leadership, in the saddle.

 Training Tips written by Jackie Johnson, www.stunthorse.com for www.HorseOwnerToday.com

Rules, Discipline, Reward, Love by Jackie Johnson

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 10, 2012 08:56


Trick Training Philosophy "Train with Trust and Communication"
Trick training is a great way to foster a fabulous relationship with your horse.  In order to have a great relationship, you have to have great trust, and great communication.  In order to make trick  training enjoyable and achievable by all, I train with grace, rather than force.

Rules, Discipline, Reward, Love
We all love our horses but do you give your horse the love that YOU want, or the love that he NEEDS.  Left to their own devices, horses live in a complex social structure with clear rules and consistent discipline.  The horses love for routine and structure is what allows us to practice things like dressage, or reining patterns in the arena on a regular basis!  When rules are not in place, and not enforced, horses often start to develop behavioral problems, and spoiling your horse with affection might only make the problem worse!
 
Rules don't have to be difficult, they can be as simple as not allowing your horse to be rude when you're feeding him from a bucket.  How many times have you experienced a horse plunging his nose into a bucket of feed with complete disregard for you?  Here is a simple exercise; throw a handfull of oats into the bottom of a feed bucket and put it on the ground of the barn isle, or in his stall.  Then go catch your horse and bring him to the bucket, ONLY allowing him to eat the oats after you have removed his halter and said 'OK'.  The rule here, is that he is not allowed access to the bucket until YOU say so.  If he tries to ignore the rule, then correct him - Discipline!  Once your horse follows the rules, THEN he can get the oats from the bucket - Reward!  After he has learned to follow your rules, THEN you can lavish him with praise, and affection. 
 
This is a little exercise that can be done on a daily basis to improve the relationship that you have with your horse.  Although creating and establishing rules may be challenging at the start, over time it will become easier, which is a good habit for both you AND your horse.

Training Tips written by Jackie Johnson, www.stunthorse.com for www.HorseOwnerToday.com

Memoirs of a Horse Owner by Sam "Deworming"

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 10, 2012 07:44

Memoirs of a Horse Owner

 

Horsemanship ....... it is an art, a science, a tradition and a lifelong journey!

 

The articles written for www.Horseownertoday.com  are a collection of my personal memoirs as a horse owner.  They are about my experiences and about my understanding of horsemanship.  They do not necessarily reflect the opinion of www.Horseownertodaycom.com  and in some cases, they do not reflect the opinion of the majority of horse owners today.  They are about my journey toward understanding a horse.

 

 

     I purchased a horse that had a long history of making routine tasks difficult.  He was well practised and he was good at it.  He knew all about how to make people give up and go to the house. 

 

    His greatest performance occurred at deworming time.  As a rule, the deworming paste ended up on his forehead and all over his muzzle, on the ground and in my hair.  It is real hard to aim a deworming syringe at the mouth of a moving target and I believe he knew that.   

 

     Albert Einstein said that there was no point in doing the same thing over, and over, and over, and over again, and expecting a different outcome each time.  I think that applies to horses too.  If you are not getting the results that you want, it would be wise to stop what you are doing and think of a better way to ask the horse to accept the task at hand.

 

     It seemed to me that if I ever wanted to deworm this horse, without a hassle, and maybe even without a halter and rope, I had to stop what I was doing and think of a better way to teach him to accept deworming. 

 

     I knew that one of the few things that he was real good at was eating.  He'd eat his share of the grub and anything else that was left within his reach.  He was like a fat kid after a cupcake.  For the most part his oral fixation was just a nuisance.  However it occurred to me that perhaps I could get it working in my favor.    

 

   Although using treats to train a horse is considered taboo with some folks, I was desperate to find a solution.  The way I saw it, things really couldn't get much worse.  So I decided to give it a try.  

 

   I started giving him a handful of rolled oats with a syringe full of molasses on top of the oats.  After a few days, I left off on the oats and gave him a syringe full of molasses in his feed dish.  He'd lick up the molasses until the dish was perfectly clean and then he'd come back and lick the dish all over again. 

 

   Within a few days he was willing to lick the molasses off of the syringe.  It wasn't long before he came to the idea that he could get to the molasses quicker if I put the syringe in his mouth.  Once he was willing to accept the syringe, deworming became a simple task.  

 

    I know that success at any task depends on my ability to present the task in a way that makes sense to the horse.  I know that I am most likely to succeed when I am able to make my idea seem like it was the horse's idea.  Sometimes it is difficult to figure out how to do that.  Learning to work with what the horse offers is what the lifelong journey into what horsemanship is all about.

 

Copyright @HorseOwnerToday.com, for reprint permission contact info@horseownertoday.com