We've Moved!

I'd like to thank everyone for reading and commenting over the years. If you'd like to continue following our blog, we now have our own website at where you can read and comment on old (and hopefully new!) posts. This blog will remain active if you would like to continue reading and posting here as well. We hope to see you there! Best wishes, JME

“On the Bit”—Next Phase

“ON THE BIT”—NEXT PHASE: BALANCING  POINTS: ·       Balancing ·       Building ·       Rewarding In the previous stages, you worked on relaxing the frame, primarily by loosening the jaw, poll , and any bracing in the muscles of the neck . You should have found that this transfers its loosening effect all the way along the topline, through the shoulder and down into the hind legs, creating regularity and an easy, swinging in the gaits, as well as an overall lengthening of the horse’s outline. However, as noted before, using the inside “Direct (Leading) Rein” will have the effect of slightly loading the inside fore. This is not the great sin it is often made out to be, especially when the horse is relaxed (not rushing) and working at a natural pace (not pushed) on straight lines and gentle curves (not tight turns.) However, your goal in this next step is to shift that balance from inside to outside. You will do this by creating a subtle inside lateral flexi

Stupid Study

"Huh?" I came across an article about a stupid study, and i just had to comment.  I couldn’t find the original study, so I wasn’t able to verify any of what’s written in this article.  But from what I can tell, it seems like a pretty crap study.  It sounds a lot like they set out with a conclusion in mind, designed a study that would prove it, and then congratulated themselves on being right all along. The theory was that nervous people make horses calmer.     Take a minute to let that soak in. Here’s the   link. Now, I can understand a schoolmaster—or even an unbroken horse—feeling less threatened by someone green and vulnerable placed at the center of a situation like this versus, say, a more confident handler venturing in there with the intention of “being the alpha,” who is naturally going to provoke a more wary, nervous response in the horse.  If the study was just making the distinction between horses' responses to people who seem to know what they

"Jaw Flexions"

I recently posted about getting a horse started “ on the bit ,” but I probably should have started here, with the somewhat obscure concept of “jaw flexions.”     I first got thinking about this after a great  conversation   started by smazourek over at   Quarters For Me , and there's a great post on the subject that you should check out as well:   Cession de machoire First off, let me start by saying that I dislike the term “jaw flexion,” as I think it’s something of a misnomer; I prefer the term “jaw releases” (and even that’s imperfect) if we have to refer to this process at all. So, what are the mysterious jaw flexions or releases?     It is a concept and practice developed by Baucher in his Second Manner and over the years has been misunderstood and mangled by successive trainers and amateurs to the point of being nearly incomprehensible.     For all I know, I may be about to add myself to that list, but here is my somewhat unorthodox take on this semi-arca

Homework Assignment Gone Wrong

I saw this in an e-mail going around work and for some reason just had to share.  I had to read it twice:  once with my regular brain and again with my "shut up and act like a normal person" moderator in place.  After you get past the initial shock and stop laughing, it's actually very sweet, and it's something I might have written at a young age, though I seriously hope my parents would have checked it before I handed it in!!!  But I do have to appreciate any young person so enthusiastic about (hopefully) horses. But I couldn't help getting a good chuckle out of it after a very long week, so hopefully you'll see the humor in it too and not be too offended.  And if you are, too bad!  Hahahahah ;-) It came from this list:   so If you don't mind rude humor, there's more of the same. But it's not for the faint of heart.  Don't say I didn

Holiday Ponies

I know I’ve been pretty lax in my posting lately.  I have plenty of excuses, but none of them are especially convincing, so I won’t insult anyone by listing them here.  The truth is I’ve probably just had too many other things on my mind to put much thought into posts anyone might remotely want to read.  I’ve got limited time and space in my brain these days, which is a really bad combination. I’ve also been feeling a little grinchy in general.  I got my Christmas shopping out of the way pretty early (for me) and did a minimum of decorating.  I didn’t even bother with a tree this year.  Instead I got a dumpster and decided to tear apart my house, garage, barn, loft, feed shed and equipment shed and finally get organized—kind my gift to myself this year—so it seemed counterproductive to drag a tree and decorations out into the middle of the chaos. I wouldn’t call myself a hoarder or anything, but I have a definite knack for hanging onto semi-useful stuff that’s past its prime

"On the Bit" - Getting Started

“ON THE BIT”—FIRST PHASE: LONG AND LOW KEY POINTS: ·       Flexing ·       Loosening ·       Lengthening FIRST STEPS: LOOSENING In this fist phase, the main priority will be to release any tension in the jaw, neck and poll, and thereby relax the topline, which will encourage the horse to naturally adopt a long and low frame on his own as opposed to an inverted and braced one. WHAT DOES THIS ACCOMPLISH? To accomplish this, one uses a single, simple rein aid: the “ Direct (Leading) Rein. ” The basic theory behind using the leading rein to get the horse stretching and relaxed in his topline is based on a technique advocated by Boucher.   He understood that, in order to raise the head and invert the topline, the horse has to brace the muscles on both sides of the neck as a pair.   Bringing the head to one side with a gentle leading rein (he employed a lifting hand for this) disengages those paired, braced muscles and allows the head to lower, which in t