• Kathy Troxler

Starting Vinny!


I've been lax on posting new material this week. And there are three reasons! The first is that Mike and I have both been working a lot of horses and still haven't really found a way to to work one and take pictures or video at the same time. The second is that once we get some really nice video, there's processing time to make it ready to post. I've learned that it's not hard to to, but as with horse training, when "rendering" and "uploading"...it takes as long as it take! Even worse, when uploading to youtube, one is advised to not do anything else on the computer..."walk away" til it's done. So, I don't do "other things" like, fb messages, photo processing etc, while video is uploading. Really messes with my system (or lack thereof!)

One of the projects coming along nicely is Vinny! Vinny is a tall, lanky three year old Arabian gelding. For the most part I've managed to get pictures or video of each step of the process, except for one and I'm going to try to get that done today!

So, to begin...this was Vinny's life in November 2013....hanging out with (and annoying) his half brother, JB.

Checking out the "scarey" boxes that all the older horses seem to think were such a big deal!

Then in the spring and summer...playing some games with Mike and Kathy.

Vinny really does love "stuff"! Especially if he can pick it up and maul it!

And now we come to the point that I think many people are surpised by. Especially "non trainers'. By Non Trainers, I mean people that don't make their living starting horses under saddle. There are many people that do a great job of "gentling" their young horses, and they figure that a horse that can handle what Vinny is doing as shown in the photo above....having a pad tossed up. Please note that Mike has untied him from the wall! We do not have a youngster tied when we do a "first" like this. Also, notice that Mike has Vinny's head turned toward. Not only does that help to make sure Vinny is paying attention, but if Vin "scuttles" from the pad, his hip will swing away from Mike, not into him. Mike is saying "whoa" (which Vinny knows) in a nice quiet voice, so that Vin has a clue of what Mike would like him to do at this point! So far, so good!

Having tossed up the saddle pad several times, and Vinny having been really good, Having the saddle put on! Note: Mike here Mike has evaluated his responses to the saddle pad toss and given him a passing grade..enough so that he has clipped Vinny to his tie BUT...this is one of our "bungee" tie combos! Inner tube with panic snap...and a "tired" inner tube at that. IF Vinny were to panic, the tie would break...as planned! And note, Mike has the lead rope fed through the ring...so that his "catch Vinny, if he's naughty" rope! That said, Mike would not have progresed to this step if he hadn't "passed" the saddle pad part, again, so far, so good!

Having the saddle cinched up for the first time! Noticed NOT TIED to the wall. The sensation of the cinch tightening, is where things can go wrong! So Mike is going REALLY slow. This is sort of tricky...you do have to have it snug enough so that the whole saddle can't roll under the belly! But not too tight! One piece of this puzzle you aren't seeing is that Vinny would have had polo wraps tied around his belly before this! Since I don't have a picture of Vinny doing that, I'll show you me with Maggie.

The above pictures would have been of Maggie early in her yearling year! We, we call this a "baby wrap"! Of course, starting with one at a time, girth, chest, under the tail (which can be an eye opening experience!), all four legs. In addition, we'll attach others to just dangle! Because the fleece polo wraps are soft (and we spend a lot of time "buffing" them with them...another lesson to post about!) they usually handle this just fine! But, you can see, I am prepared for Maggie to possibly have an issue...which I haven't put a chain on (laziness on my part!) I have run the lunge line over her nose for extra control if she decided to pitch a fit! I was prepared for a possible "fit" because the reason we were having the "baby wrap" lesson is that darling Maggie hated having her back legs touched, and was very quick to kick out if something touched them...so here you go!

Back to Vinny (and he can't even begin to approach the diva status of young Maggie), here he is continuing to "ace" this saddling session! Note, a chain has appeared! Very smart guy my hubbie! I wonder who taught him some of this stuff!

Some people take issue with using a "stud chain" and I can't for the life of me imagine why! Take a really good look! Does Vinny look like he minds wearing a chain!?? Is the chain causing him any discomfort at all? The answer is "no"! When Vinny is good, the chain is nothing more than a piece of goth jewelry. And you can see that Vinny is being a very good boy and not bothered by having the stirrup flopped up and over and having the cinch snugged a little!

What a star! Standing and waiting for Mike to tell him what to do! But it does look like part of his mind is working on something! And Mike is just going to ask him to walk for a lap or two...which he aced! But life as a riding horse goes way past walking!

Time for a trot...still pretty good, but if you look really closely, you can see what's going on "behind the scenes" in Vinny's brain...by looking at lips! Yep...Vinny (like most horses) has several "tells". First of all, his back is all arched up like a mad cat! That's hard to see in the still pictures, but take my word for it!

You can also tell he's getting "pissed" by looking at his mouth. Really! You can tell that Vinny is just starting to be annoyed! Not scared! But now that he's trotting, those heavy stirrups are slappin at his belly and "that's just rude"! He's thinking he doesn't much care for that! What's the signficance of his mouth! Mostly, it's just a window into his brain right now...and not all horses are this easy to read, but Vin is! He's "puckered"!

If you look at the picture immediately above, Vinny is not "puckered" . As a matter of fact, he's so relaxed he's thinking about "nudging" Mike's knuckles. Vin's very friendly and we DO NOT encourage him to "nuzzle" or otherwise treat us like one of his horse buddies...refer back to the picture of Vin and his buddy JB. He is never allowed to confuse us with one of his "buddies"! And he's doing just fine in the picture above, because while he's thinking about it, he is also "thinking better" of that idea! The point is, his nostril and his chin are both different than in the previous "puckered" picture! Here he's "happy" and in the one above...well, he's starting to get pissed off...which is fine! The point is, most people miss the signs that things are heading in a more "challenging" direction!

Above, another great picture to illustrate "all is not as it might seem". Trotting along, Vinny came to a stop...without Mike asking for it. And what a great moment to get a picture. Every thing about his body posture says, "I don't like this"! He was smart enough to stop to make the stirrups stop banging on him! But the tail action is priceless! He sort of reminds me of a wet cat in this one...and he's just about as happy! But, the lesson must go on! And the fact of the matter is...he needs to learn to get over the idea that the stirrups slapping him is an issue at all! But he's a baby! This is to be expected, not surprised by!

Back to the trot....not bad, but you can almost see the gears turning! Now comes the part where I really, really wish I had video instead of stills...but, you'll still get the idea!

And this is the reason for having something like a stud chain for this lesson! The last thing you want to have happen is losing control of one when they're in the middle of this...cause then you have angry bucking baby PLUS loose with lines dragging!

The "all four feet pile driving" move!

All done! Boy, he's going to sleep good tonight!

And after all of that, what has Vinny learned?

That there are some things you might not like, but having a temper tantrum is just more work than it's worth. There are things you might not like, but you have to deal with it!

Through all of it, his handler was right there for him!

Mike didn't just "let 'er rip".

Mike would tell Vinny what the correct response was. He would give Vinny a cue to trot, and if he "pitched" he let him have a couple of strides, BUT, then Mike would cue for "trot".

He didn't just leave him it to Vinny's imagination as to what the correct thing to do was! He told him what he was supposed to be doing.

Mike just didn't over react when Vinny got it wrong!

To Vinny's credit, he could hear and execute Mike's cues (technically Vinny would "whoa" instead of coming to thetrot, but that's not something we were overly concerned about for this session) even when he was this annoyed!

We are thrilled when a horse can "hear and execute" anthing when they are in the middle of something like this. But, then Mike would ask for the trot (canter would be fine as well) again and repeat as necessary! I think the entire session took 10 minutes!

Next time.....Vinny's first rides!

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Mike and Kathy Troxler
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email: kathytroxler@gmail.com