By Keith Hosman, John Lyons Certified Trainer
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Here's an easy fix for horses that get cinchy or irritated when you tack up.
Have you ever seen a film that took place in a prison in which the prisoners didn't have some sort of secret world? Every prison film details the "secret life" the population carries on, the guards (seemingly) oblivious. They've got a whole "underground railroad" thing happening - with goods and services flowing back and forth, even their own currency. (Isn't it always cigarettes?) The underlying current making this all possible, of course, is their secret pipeline of communication, secret signals, informants and couriers, their own unique language. One tap of a tin can means the guard is coming, that sort of thing. The warden locks up for the night, hands the keys to his next-in-charge and goes home to the wife and kids. Meanwhile, prisoners 001 and 3924 are hatching some evil scheme to heist egg noodles from the kitchen.
Well, if your horse is stabled with one or more equine friend, he's doing the same. (Keeping him in "solitary" has it's own issues. "Cribbing" and "weaving" come to mind.) The very moment your car pulls out of the drive they get down to concocting their mischief. Maybe it's a feed room break in, maybe they're gonna kick a door in, maybe somebody's getting roughed up. One thing is absolutely certain, the older, more experienced horses are spending their evening counseling the others on ways to drive us nuts. "Move right before they put their foot in the stirrup." (Big horse laughs here) "That's a good one." I've got seven horses of my own and I know without a doubt that they get together and pass along what works, what doesn't, and how to make me crazy.
It certainly doesn't take them long to learn that a saddle on their backs means they're getting put to work pretty quick - so it's no wonder that so many bad habits develop along this point. They weren't born yesterday: You approaching with a smile on your face, a saddle in one hand and "Riding for Newbies" in the other can only mean one thing: Work. It's no wonder they begin channeling the advice they've heard from their buddies: "Dance around," "Act like you're gonna bite," "Don't let him put the bit in your mouth. You get a bit in your mouth and you're done for." And, they're always trying something new, aren't they? I'd finally worked one of my mares through - what I thought was every bad habit at saddling time - only to have her lay down on me. (I cured this by being the ready the next time: The moment her legs began to buckle I screamed like a stuck pig and got her moving... anywhere. Trust me, she didn't go back and tell the others to try laying down.)
You can only deal with these crazy things they try in one way - and that's by...
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| Meet the author:
John & Josh Lyons Certified
Clinician and Trainer
Utopia, TX (Hill Country of San Antonio)
Keith Hosman is based in San Antonio, TX and is available for clinics, lessons and training. He frequently travels to Los Angeles, CA and Kansas City, MO where he partners with fellow clinician Patrick Benson for clinics and demonstrations. You can find him on Google+ and Reddit.
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Lyons Training 101: Issue Eighteen, Part 1
"Saddle Breaking a Horse: Cinchy Horses"
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