Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Trainers Signatures

Over the years I've learned that every horse trainer has a particular pattern or way of doing things and once I learn that pattern it is fairly easy for me to identify horses trained by that person.

I had an email conversation going with a woman and she mentioned something about the way her horse responded to certain aids (signals). There was something familar about the aids she described using on her horse but it took a while for me to remember where I'd learned about this particular method of telling a horse what you want it to do. Something people either forget or never learn is that a horse will learn to do what you want via whatever signals you choose to use as long as you are consistent in their use. Here is some of my response to her.

I had to sleep on it, but when you mentioned the business of cuing your horse with your thighs I remembered when I was looking at Pasos I went to a farm that had one of the top trainers from Peru working for them. I rode some of their horses and he instructed me to cue the horses using pressure from hip to knee. The lower leg was used separately to signal forward movement and upward (collected) movement.

Later when I was riding a gelding at another place I used these signals and got a perfect response. I asked the owner how long the horse had been with that particular trainer and she was amazed I could tell it had been with him.

I learned back in my livery stable days that every trainer has a "signature" and once you know it any horse that person's worked with will be easier to handle if you use those signals. It is something that has stood me in good stead for a lot of years. When trying a new horse I don't waste time trying to give perfect aids, rather I try to find which ones that particular horse has been taught to respond too.

Lazy Trainer Tip

When riding or driving a horse for the first time ask the person responsible what aids the animal is accustomed to. Do not assume the ones you usually use are ones that horse will understand. If someone tells you a horse is trained to respond to different signals than the ones you know use what the person tells you not what you have learned.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Completely Off Topic

The following has nothing to do with my usual subjects of animals and their care and training. It is an email a friend sent and my reply to her.
It concerns a subject I feel so strongly about that, as I explain in my comments to the email I received, I am going to put it up for all of you to read. Yes, I'm aware that some of what I say is insulting, but I consider the insults I'm replying to are far worse because they are so completely ignored by all and sundry.

Lazy Trainer

This is a very important READ for those of us who are women and those who love a mother, wife, daughter or good female friend! It has not been that long and I frankly, was not aware just how hard the vote was won!



I know many of us don’t think we have time to read long e-mails. Trust me. You DO have time for this one.
A friend forwarded this, an d I thought you also might find it eye-opening. The message was inspired by an HBO film that's on this month-- Iron Jawed Angels, with Hilary Swank playing Alice Paul. It is the story of our Grandmothers and our Great-grandmothers, as they lived only 90 years ago. It was not until 1920 that women in the U.S. were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.Thus unfolded the "Night of Terror" on November 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. The women were innocent and defenseless. An d by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of "obstructing sidewalk traffic."They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food -- all of it colorless slop -- was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for w eeks until word was smuggled out to the press.�So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because -- why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied Women's History, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was -- with herself. "One th ought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie," she said. "What would those women think of the way I use -- or don't use -- my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn." The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'HBO released the movie on video and DVD. I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum. I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.The doctor admonished the men : "Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity."Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know. We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whethe r you vote Democratic, Republican or Independent party -- remember to vote.History is being made.

This is something we as women really need to keep telling our daughters and granddaughters about.
I don't know about you Janine, but even though I am not a fan of hers, I have been outraged by the way Hilary Clinton was treated during the primary election process. Things were said and done that had the "black" equivalent been said or done there would have been a public outcry that would have shaken the foundations of the whole process.
Yet, other than a few women blogging about it, there was hardly any mention at all about the indignity and unfairness of it. Every perceived threat and snub Obama endured was aired and discussed at great length. Yet, far worse things said and done concerning Hilary were almost completely ignored.
At the point where she clearly was the choice of the voters the Powers That Be of the Democratic party apparently decided that they would rather field a black candidate who had the required "meat and two veggies" than a woman.
As for the post I am all too aware of the reality of the subject. I was raised in an all female household and both my grandmother and mother were born before women had the right to vote. Even though we were quite poor (women were paid forty percent of what men were then) they paid their poll tax and voted in every election.
As for me, I am afraid I get a red haze of outrage going when anyone tries to tell me I don't understand discrimination.
In 1964 I was refused entry to the college of my choice because, as was written on the OUTSIDE of my application envelope when it was returned to me, "WE DON"T TAKE GIRLS." It took lawsuits by those who had the money and clout that went to the highest courts to change that.
In 1971 I was told to go home and be a better wife by a lawyer and judge when I tried to file for a divorce. The fact my husband had broken my glasses, blacked both my eyes and and given me a concussion wasn't a good enough reason to get the divorce. My offence that earned the beating? I couldn't stop coughing because I had a sever case of bronchitis and I was bothering him even though I was in a room, with the door closed, at the other end of the house.

In 1972 when I needed a good job to support myself and my child I was told, "You are the best applicant we have for the job, but I want a man in this position."
Later that same year I was hired for a job and told, "If the court hadn't ruled I have to hire a woman I would not hire you even though you are well qualified, but they did so I will."
For my next job I was the first woman hire by a very large company and much doubt was expressed that I could do the job at all. They now have many women working for them in the position, but at the time they made it plain I was only being hired because the new laws were forcing them to hire women. Incidentally, black men had long been able to go to that school and work at those companies in those positions. So, who was really being discriminated against?
We've come a long way, baby? Not even. As long as we are treated as third class citizens, paid less for doing the same jobs, laid off first and hired last we have not reached the heights our female ancestors dreamed for.
Okay, now that my blood pressure has gone through the roof and I'm panting as if I'd run a marathon, I'll shut up and climb down off my soap box.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Lost Weekend

I've spent most of my weekend recovering from a computer crash. What caused it? Dunno. I do know that my external hard drive, keys and off-site storage have saved my bacon.

Lazy Trainer Tip

Back up! Back UP! BACK up! BACK UP! Got it folks?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Why Do You Do It?

Holly Lisle author and my publisher sends out a newsletter every other week. Lately, "Why do you write?" has been her subject. This is always a question that facinates those of us who write as well as those who don't.

Naturally the subject of fame and fortune as a writer came up and discussions began. Some, such as King and Rowling, hit the writers jackpot and win big time. A lot of writers make a living at it without ever getting near such dizzing heights. Most who are lucky enough to sell a book will eventually sell five hundred or fewer copies of that book. What is the difference between the person who only sells a hundred copies and the one who sells a hundred thousand? Can you win the writer's lottery by planning to?

I have attended several events where a famous New York agent spoke. He said that, no matter how much a book is advertised and pushed, there is one thing no one can determine and that is the WOM factor. WOM stands for Word Of Mouth. And that is something no publisher, no agent, no writer, no publicity agent has any control over. And WOM is what makes a super star in the beginning.

Here is the letter I sent to Holly in response to her advice and comments about why some of us write.

Thanks again, Holly,
For reminding me why I'm really sitting at desk and computer for hours and hours most days.
I will say I write because I can't NOT write. Storytelling has been a vice since I first learned to talk.
However, now I am also writing in an attempt to transfer knowledge I acquired over the years. Some of my knowledge was hard won. Forget grades and college fees, broken bones and dead animals were the price paid for much of my knowledge. If only one or two are spared having to pay this price then I owe it to them to "pay it forward."

Thank you for giving me to opportunity to do so as well as aiding me in honing my skills to make my work better.

Lazy Trainer Tip

Holly's advice has always been to write the best book you can and work from there. My take is that that is all anyone can do in any endeavor whether it is writing a book or training a dog. Do your best and then see what happens.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Follow The Leader

Before I begin my article here is a blog I like. http://abraxanminis.blogspot.com/2008/06/aridzona-jean-and-garden-of-doom.html

Last week my herd of horses decided they knew exactly what was going on and would just go line up at a gate before I got there.

Cute. But this is how you can get in real trouble without realizing it. It seems convenient to have them ready to go out, but it also means they are not "following" you as their leader. This means in short order you can lose control of the herd and suddenly you are the omega and being bossed around. A very dangerous state of affairs for a human.

To prevent this I began by walking towards another gate. They watched for a few seconds then rushed over there. I changed course for another gate and they zipped over there. It took four changes before they gave up and started following me. One horse didn't give up until I'd changed directions seven times. Finally he gave up and fell in line with the rest of them. I led the herd through a complicated pattern for a few minutes before I went to a gate and allowed them to go out to pasture.

Several years ago I got in trouble by ignoring just such a subtle sign at feeding time. My daughter's Arabian mare began by putting her ears back as I approached her stall to put feed in her feed tub. I was in a hurry most times and ignored the behavior. It escalated until one day I realized she was actually starting to charge when I approached. This is extremely dangerous behavior in a horse (or any animal you are dealing with) and I had to work for several weeks to cure the problem I'd allowed to develop.

Lazy Trainer Tip

Pay attention to subtle signs that you are being challenged as leader and take immediate steps to re-establish your position. If you do this right at the beginning it can be as simple as walking around a pen until they fall into line behind you.