Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Just a reflection on Ruben's Training

I think it is appropriate to make comment about Ruben's training of the mustang. Some have asked Ruben if he can do the same for their horse in four weeks as he has with the mustang. The answer is most probably no. The next question is often, "Why not?" Well there are many reasons. It depends on the horse's ability to learn. Some simply learn faster than others. Some are more willing than others. We have been blessed with a mustang that is very willing to trust and to respond to Ruben's training. Some horses have been spoiled in many different ways. Some are treat trained and will do things for a treat. When there is no treat they get stubborn or lose interest in training. Others have been spoiled with excessive stimulation (petting and being loved on) and they are used to getting the reward without ever having to have earned it.

Ruben hws been fortunate to have a willing horse and the horse had no preconceived or learned habits taught to them be well intentioned people. He does not train to a schedule of 30 or 90 days. He trains on the premise of the horse's ability and what you want the horse to know when he is finished. A very important quality of Ruben's is that he is very careful NOT to exceed the horses psychological ability to learn. Their ability is based on many factors that include, but are not limited to their age, physical conditioning, previous training exposure, their ability to learn, their level of exposure to other people and many other factors. To illustrate this point, Ruben trained a very expensive Andalusian horse that was a basket case when it arrived. At an early age (6 months), a trainer had used a cattle pro on the horse and it had learned not to trust anyone and fought even Ruben's gentle techniques. Eventually, Ruben won the horse over and it became a very highly trained and willing partner. He was used in many demonstrations and rode by other family members in parades, exhibitions, etc., before returning to the owner. Was that horse trained in a month or two? Absolutely not.
Ruben is a last chance trainer for many horses. These are horses that had a very uncertain future. He has never lost one of these horses because of his training. Have they been "90 day wonders"? Not a one of them. However, they all are now willing partners and have a secure future as a safe and ridable horse. I personally know of an Appaloosa gelding that was gelded because of his vicious and aggressive nature brought about by aggressive, forceful and over all poor training. Ruben was his third and last hope. After Ruben's training this Grandson of Goer, a Hall of Fame Appaloosa, is a great horse. He stood in a field for two and a half years and I was able to saddle him, put a bosal on him and ride him. He remembered his training and even others were able to get on him and ride him in the round pen.
Ruben trains the mustang on his own time. Ruben usually works the mustang twice a day, first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening for 20-30 minutes. Some days there is not enough light left to video tape the session. This is not his normal routine with a horse in training. The horse usually let's Ruben know when to proceed with training to the result the owner desires from Ruben and their horse.

Approaching the Halfway Point of Training

Ruben in a moment of reflection.

Well, we are entering week 6 of training with the Mustang. Things are looking good. Saturday Ruben exposed him to the sound of gun shots using a friend's training pistol he uses in training his bird dogs. The mustang did great. He flinched the first two times and after that he was fine. Yesterday, Ruben worked him in the large arena. He is side passing prettier every day. He was introduced to jumps, barrels and a rope. I hope to be able to post a clip of the rope training. He stood like a bro after the first couple of twirls and then Ruben had him moving with the rope twirling and being thrown. Then again, Ruben exposed him to a twirling lead line on the second day of training. Next will be cattle and actual roping. Ruben's goal is to produce the most rounded horse for the eventual adopter in Madison.

At this point in the Mustang's training he has been exposed to or trained as follows:

  • Giving to pressure of the lead line and halter

  • Walk on the lead

  • Lateral flexing (always done before The 5 Essential Ground Exercises.)

  • The 5 Essential Ground Exercises: Moving the Front End, Rear End, Side passing, Backing and Stopping.

  • The 5 Essential Ground Exercises transferred to the saddle

  • The basic Piaffe, Passage on the ground

  • The Spanish Walk on the ground and in the saddle

  • Shooting

  • Roping

  • Jumping (inside the round pen and arena, not out of them)

  • He trailers, allows handling/cleaning of his feet, blankets, stands nicely for the farrier

  • Has performed in clinics inside large exposition halls with crowds and noises he was not accustomd to.

  • Exposed to several people petting and stimulating him at one time. (he is a glutton for attention/affection)

  • Has been out on the trail here at HWD

  • Been through Trail Rider Competition Trail in Boise, ID at the Horse Affairs

  • Was used to collect a loose horse and worked it (cornered it/penned it) so that it could be caught.

  • Stands well to be groomed. Again, likes the attention.

  • Is socialized with other horses

  • Exposed to non-equine species such as dogs or all sizes, in the yard and on the trail. Live llamas and deer mannequins in the trail course.

  • He stands for bicyclists and walks through tarp strips. He even tries to eat them if you stand there long enough.

I am simply amazed at how far this horse has come is such a short time!

We are still experiencing a few technical difficulties on transferring the video tapes to DVD. Luckily, we have a friend that is doing it for us, but there is a time lag in getting them recorded delivered and processed and back so we can post them here. We do appreciate the assistance Brian (BK Builders).

There are lots of comments coming into Horsemen's Western Dressage from former students and clients. They are asking how they can help out. It is very nice to hear them say they do a lot of this or that type riding and they are always complemented on their riding or their horses abilities. They tell Ruben, they have him to thank for that. I guess what goes around does eventually comes around. It is heart warming and rewarding to have people come back and are still appreciative after several years and to know they and their horses are still working together and doing great. That is Ruben's goal: To produce a light and responsive horse that is trained for the remainder of it's life.

Until next time (and hopefully with video's and pictures), happy trails. Be safe out there. Spring is coming, I swear it is, hang in there!