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University Suggestion Box

First USE of the bit

Hello! 2014 Cyberhunt winner 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed 350 lessons completed 400 lessons completed 450 lessons completed 500 lessons completed 550 lessons completed
Dear Monty, Dear team,

My horse takes her bit willingly. However, we have been riding using the dually halter in order to prevent any soreness should a quick reaction take place. I have read in your book From My Hands To Yours, that schooling with sidereins is the best course of action yet have not found a video that uses an example of a super green horse. I think Oxanna was the closest and she was well  versed in both lungeing and sidereins. Oh how I fear the day I would be called on to stand away on the end of a line and watch my girl take fright of her constraints. Please help me take kind steps forward.

Anne Kirk
Debbie Roberts-Loucks, USA
Hello! 2014 Cyberhunt winner 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed 350 lessons completed 400 lessons completed 450 lessons completed 500 lessons completed 550 lessons completed
Hi Anne,
It's great you are referencing the training manual From My Hands to Yours. Oxanna is a good lesson for the single line (overly) lunged horse. There are other series like GROUND WORK, ADVANCED LESSONS > WILD HORSES  or GROUND WORK, ADVANCED LESSONS > GEORGIA'S PHOBIAS  Also, Tour Videos like Geronimo https://montyrobertsuniversity.com/training/2031188932 speak to side reins too. Let me know if that helps. 
Thanks!
Debbie

annekirk
Hello! 2014 Cyberhunt winner 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed 350 lessons completed 400 lessons completed 450 lessons completed 500 lessons completed 550 lessons completed
Dear Ms. Debbie:

I did not communicate my need well. May, my starter, takes the bit without issue. For the last year as she was schooled, she has worn her headstall quietly. I have trained her to come to the mounting block as per Monty's lessons and she does. I mount and we have passed over cavaletti and endured nearby sirens no problem. The problem exists where the Book suggests sidereins. Geronimo is a lesson on mounting successfully, painlessly, and walking then trotting off withDan riding and Tommy on the leadline- so I am past that. Tbe Groundwork/ Wildhorses is reducing fear inthe horse. No problem there with May after two years of groundtraining using  Monty methods. What I need is help convincing me that I could now add reins to the headstall rather than the dually. Or...take May  back to the round pen With sidereins, as the Book suggests(?) and not create a problem when May seeks to feel the freedom she has been enjoying and meets the constraints of the sidereins! Dear Debbie, look back at the video I sent you most recently. May is striding forward just by using my seat! I can't find a lesson on siderein schooling. I don' know what to school next. My hands want to take the reins softly but I don't want May to miss out with what Monty calls"better turns"  in the Book.
Kicki -- Sweden
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Hi Anne


Forgive me if I am butting in with an answer you may not be looking for, but from the information you are giving, I am wondering if you really need the side reins at this point.


You mention that May has been comfortable with the bit for a year and moves forward willingly just from your seat. That is a great place to start and I wouldn't call her super green anymore. :)


From that point I would find it fairly easy to move on to bit and reins, but you seem to be after something else. Unfortunately, I am not sure what you mean with “better turns”. I tried, but failed, to find it in my book, but my copy is a first edition and in Swedish, so maybe that's why. 
It does mention side reins as a part of getting the horse accustomed to the bit by letting it loose lunge with loose, elastic side reins that is shortened incrementally until there is a contact. It seems to me you would be past that point since she works fine with contact on the Dually and your aids.


It should be kept in mind that while the main purpose of side reins is, correctly fitted, to guide the horse to an outline where it can find balance and build muscle tone and strength to carry itself – and eventually a rider – correctly; to help a more advanced horse to maintain and work in a more collected form without a rider on its back, for instance when learning the piaff, or serve as a prevention from trying to snatch at the bit – none of this will happen unless there is propulsion from the back.
If you don't have that, the side reins are pretty useless.


Monty says that he who controls the feet, controls the horse. I say that is especially true of the hind legs. When you can influence the horse to carry more weight on his hind legs, to work with more propulsion from behind, the abdomen and back will come up, the neck arch and the poll become more relaxed, as will the jaw, and the horse will find a natural position to work in by itself. 
Long lining is an excellent way of achieving this and often works better without the side reins. (Not according to me but to a world champion horse driver: Anders Eriksson.) because it has to learn to think on its feet - literally!


Since you seem to say that May is working fine both in long lines and under rider, I take it she is already working towards a relaxed and balanced shape and hence the side reins, at this point, won't be of much use, trainingwise

I'm thinking you could easily make the transition by fitting a Dually over a bridle and ride with a twin set of reins. If she is used to seeking contact with your hands and you have steady hands, it shouldn't take too many sessions for her.


If you want to make it even more incremental, and assuming you have already led her around in a bit, doing ground work and showing her how to turn and stop (otherwise, now is as good a time as ever!) you could get someone to help lead her in the Dually while you walk by her side in the rider's position and handle the reins over her withers as if you were riding, and when that works; mount and repeat process until you manage without the Dually. 
If you believe she will do something stupid, keep the Dually on so you can do an “emergency break” with that rather than with the bit. (Although it does work better with a bit if they really have a go for it.)


So, when it comes to the side reins, my overall suggestion would be that once she is working toward the bit, accepting contact and not fighting with it, you can move on to fitting the side reins and she will have an easier time to understand what she needs to do to be comfortable with them and the restraint she might feel.

In the hopes that I have been of some small use,
Kicki
JoHewittVINTA
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Hi Anne. I agree with Kiki. From what you have described May has no need of side reins at this point in her training. It is far too easy to destroy confidence, in the blink of an eye & incredibly hard to rebuild it. Also, the modern design of side rein, using a rubber ring rather than a strip of elastic, is not favoured by many horse people including, I believe, Monty. Great care should be taken whenever adding equipment to the basic saddle & bridle - in Britain there are many horses using a 3 ring gag. So many that it seems either incompetent training/riding skills abound or it is as much a fashion item & the first next best option to a basic snaffle. My advice would be to avoid side reins altogether & work with equipment that allows your hands to dictate where, when & how much pressure is applied. Arguably, a more time consuming option but one that will allow you to protect May from possible mishap. Best of luck. Cheers, Jo.
annekirk
Hello! 2014 Cyberhunt winner 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed 350 lessons completed 400 lessons completed 450 lessons completed 500 lessons completed 550 lessons completed
Holy Moly! ( as Monty would say)Thank you so much for contributing to the conversation Kicki and Jo. You took the time and made the effort to understand. Thanks. I will take your words to heart. Please understand that my concern comes from a great need in me to do right by May. Personally, I have felt that I was horsewoman enough to now go to reins on the head stall....BUT, I know how quickly a horse can react and also who am I? I am no Monty Roberts with all his expertise. In the book From My Hands To Yours, page 37, it states, »I have used this method of mouthing a horse for well over 50 years now and have found it to be most effective. When I finally saddle and ride the animal schooled in this fashion, it is amazing how cooperative he is with his turns, stops and reining back. » Okay, I introduced the honeyed bit and she likes it and keeps it in her mouth quietly. But, adding reins is a Big step to something like that on mouth flesh. ( I have held the bit in my mouth ) If I want the best for her then improving her turns and stops should be at the very least carefully considered. That’s all. I guess I am as one person said, »a bit particular. « ( or was that ´peculiar’? ) Lol. Thank you all again for your feedback! Sincerely, Anne

annekirk
Hello! 2014 Cyberhunt winner 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed 350 lessons completed 400 lessons completed 450 lessons completed 500 lessons completed 550 lessons completed
I feel compelled to add that I am quite aware that the mouthing should have preceded the saddling and riding but after many sleepless nights of  consideration, I felt May couldn’t be asked to stand with sidereins pulling on the bit she had accepted so readily. I fully appreciate that someone so horse savy as Monty could but I just could not. ( Chapter 3, page 37) Just saying.
JoHewittVINTA
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Hi Anne. I fully agree with you. Monty has devoted his life, eight decades, to nothing but understanding horses. He has fine tuned his skills to a point most of us will only ever aspire to. However, we can ALL use the 'Monty logic'. Learn to 'read your horse' as each one is an individual with different needs & thresholds. May is a lucky mare. She has an owner who not only deeply cares about her health & wellbeing but is also adamant to progress her learning within their joint capabilities. Many a talented horse has been ruined by the humans over confidence or excessive, if well meaning, enthusiasm. It needs to be the horse who determines the pace & content. Kiki has given you some really incremental steps to use & I am confident you will be able to confirm your success soon to us on this forum. I, for one, am looking forward to hearing your ongoing reports on May & her training. Cheers, Jo.
annekirk
Hello! 2014 Cyberhunt winner 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed 350 lessons completed 400 lessons completed 450 lessons completed 500 lessons completed 550 lessons completed
Hello everyone! A special "hello" to Ms. Debbie Loucks, Jo and  Kiki. I apologize to you for the pregnant pause in communication. No, I wasn 't unseated , just a super slow trainer. This is what has transpired in the meantime.

First, I decided to do some remedial work in order to build confidence in Mayflower and Me. We did a return to driving and driving vocabulary. " Walk on, come around and go around". We built in " whoa " a lot since she was dually trained to stop when I stop, I wanted her to hear "whoa" doing groundwork.

Then, groundwork using the bit at the withers as outlined by Kiki followed by mounted work with bit but reins once again on the dually.

Finally, the bit in place( at this point I got the distinct impression that May was muttering to herself, "Good grief! Can we just get on with this?") I took the reins which were attached to the bit in my one hand with a large smile in both reins and holding them absolutely even and loose on her neck, ventured off with, "Walk on, May". And 😊 she did!! Next time, we trotted! Yes my verbals are there but she is content.

We will, INCREMENTALLY, begin to build in the contact and the canter. May I keep you in the loop? Today I was catching up on my "Monty's" ie my lessons on the Uni and Monty had a quote there, "What's important is a well-behaved, happy and willing horse not the amount of time it took." Can you believe the timing of his training? What a guy! I love the way he speaks for the horse. Love you all! Anne

PS : Monty has said in the lessons somewhere that you should get the horse out of tbe arena setting as soon as possible. I think it was in the lessons on the ra ehorse starter. What do you think? Get May out to the outdoor arena soon to see the training in context ?
JoHewittVINTA
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Hi Anne. WONDERFUL update. Clearly May is very comfortable with your training approach. I can only encourage you to continue in a similar way - as Monty says " Slow is fast ". It is highly likely that, at some point, you & May will have some disagreement - she will either misunderstand something or just find herself outside her ' comfort zone '. Your immediate reaction to that is crucial - remember, the horse is ALWAYS blameless. My Humphrey, so terrified of body tack that even a towel over his back causes him to significantly worry, happily accepts being ridden bare back with the Dually. When his rider falls/slips off, he just stands there - stays with you. He KNOWS he's not blamed even when he's caused it - never bucks or rears but simply does a 180 spin. So gentle even nervous first time youngsters can have a ' sit on & lead around '. Continue to meet Mays' needs & your partnership will flourish. I, for one, look forward to hearing more from you about your journey together. Cheers, Jo.
Kicki -- Sweden
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Hi Anne,
Lovely to hear about your progress. And very pleased that some of my suggestions have been helpful to you. Keep listening to your horse and advance at a slow and steady pace.

As for leaving the indoors, I believe that should be done as soon as possible, but also with  the highest regards to your safety. Horses have a tendency to work better forward outdoors than indoors so the willingness to move forward comes for free and will benefit in the training, but the risk off too much speed and propulsion is something to keep in mind. 

If May is totally unused to work outdoors and you don't know what to expect, I would recommend leading and long lining (two lines) both in the arena and out in the woods/fields/whatever nature you have to ride in, to accustom her to cars and cows and wind etc. Once she seems OK with her surroundings and concentrate on you, I think going out will be to your advantage in the training,

And, please, do keep us updated! :) Knowing what helps you, will give me more knowledge on what ti suggest to others, so your learning curve is mine too. :) :)




JoHewittVINTA
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Hi Anne. Kiki makes a valid but often missed point. By sharing on the forum, both good & not so good experiences, we can all benefit from cumulative knowledge. It's great to feel your endeavours have the support of others, especially if you are working in a less than supportive environment.
.
Monty has done extraordinary work worldwide to bring his concepts to a huge audience. If we find value in those concepts, it is a small repayment to him if we add our weight to his push for a violence free training environment for horses. Of course, Monty wants violence out of other areas too. As they say " From little acorns mighty oaks do grow ". By keeping the conversations going we can all, in our own modest ways, help Montys oak to grow strong, tall & ever more difficult to ignore. Cheers. Jo.
Debbie Roberts-Loucks, USA
Hello! 2014 Cyberhunt winner 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed 350 lessons completed 400 lessons completed 450 lessons completed 500 lessons completed 550 lessons completed
Hi Anne, Jo and Kiki, very nice contributions to May's story here. 
Anne, you are a wonderful owner. Do you have another quiet horse and rider who could ride outside with you, at least at first? Companions do help settle the freshness, if possible.
Jo and Kiki, you add invaluable advice and experience to Monty's lessons here. 

Kicki -- Sweden
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Debbie, Jo,
Thank you. :)
JoHewittVINTA
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Hi Anne. You've helped me! Kirk has been started (finally). Lots of reasons why he's now 6 & hadn't been ridden yet. Anyway, he was really good, totally calm with ears pricked throughout. Having been lead whilst sat on bare back, both with & without a lead line, on several days ( Jordan is a novice rider hence my long term ground involvement to ensure Kirk remained calm ) he happily accepted the saddle & me on board. However, he isn't taking cues to move off very well - does so from a ground cue. My first thought was he needed the assistance of a calm & experienced horse to follow but now I've realised more time on long lines to more firmly fix his responses to vocal cues is probably the best next option. Thank you. Debbie, thank you too. Cheers, Jo.
annekirk
Hello! 2014 Cyberhunt winner 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed 350 lessons completed 400 lessons completed 450 lessons completed 500 lessons completed 550 lessons completed
Hello everyone! IS THIS INCREDIBLE OR WHAT?!!!  What a forum for intelligent conversation! No, I am really impressed! This has got to be part of Monty's dream! 

 My husband Gary is reticent about mounting up. He and I did ride together but ... he has, on occasion, agreed to mount within the confines of the indoor arena. We could start there. Perhaps he could click on a leadline to a halter under the headstall and we could just go for a walk in the pasture? May and I started out that way. We walked everywhere- up to the top of the pasture hill, down to the wooded sloughs and by the grid roads. We could do that. 

Jo, are you telling me that one of your horses is named "Kirk"...just like me! No way! Of course, I would love to keep you updated! I would also love to meet you face to face at Flag Is Up Farms! There is that symposium coming up with Monty and Temple Grandin and hopefully Ada Gates and Dr. Miller ( the expert on imprinting new borns)... Who knows!  Dreams can come true...

Big hugs to all, Anne Kirk
annekirk
Hello! 2014 Cyberhunt winner 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed 350 lessons completed 400 lessons completed 450 lessons completed 500 lessons completed 550 lessons completed
P. S. Hey, we all got our lessons caught up!,,, And, a new award!,,,,I think I will go back and review all my lessons. There's always more to learn.

Anne
JoHewittVINTA
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Hi Anne. Yes, I have Kirk, born 18/03/13. He is gentle, playful, cheeky and generally wonderful but there might be some bias there. His sire is Humphrey who lives here too. He is an Irish cob, who has always been incredibly gentle but again, there could be some bias. I also have Kirks full sister, Holy Moley, born 12/05/14 - their dam, Bella, was an exceptional mare, far too intelligent for her own good. Kirk was born at Kirklands livery yard ( hence the name ). Holy Moley was named because she is Bella's miracle! Bella went lame about half way through the pregnancy. It transpired that she had fractured her knee & the options the vet gave were a) you'll loose both mare & foal b) you'll have to hand rear the foal or c) with a lot of medical intervention, Bella might give you a foal & rear it to weaning but the chances of that are slim. So the two boys were gelded. Well, guess what, my Bella carried to term, gave unaided birth in the field to a beautiful chestnut filly and raised her to six months old. This is in Scotland so by mid November the weather is getting cold. Bella had done an exceptional job with Miss Moley, Humphrey had taken over entertaining and educating Kirk but the day of reckoning had come. So, now I have a family of three, plus Max, the Welsh A. They all live together, in the field next to me or in another a short journey away and make my early retirement interesting! Unfortunately, I won't be at Flag is Up farms but if you're going I'm sure you'll have a great time. However, Monty is due here in West Lothian on 29/9 and I will see him at SNEC. It's just over a mile from my home. Who knows, there may be more to share with you?!
.
Great idea to include husband Gary. The walking, as you describe, sounds perfect. Just be mindful that novice equine and novice rider together will need your VERY CALM AND CALMING presence at all times. My advice, be very careful of the subjects of conversation during these walks. Avoid anything contentious. Stay focused on your responsibilities to both May and Gary. Revisiting the lessons is always helpful to me as, like you say, there always seems to be more to learn. Looking forward to keeping in touch. Cheers, Jo.
Kicki -- Sweden
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Anne,
Just to say I agree fully with Jo. :) Great idea to involve Gary. Hopefully, you feel safe with him and that will help you relax and send those energies to May.
Debbie Roberts-Loucks, USA
Hello! 2014 Cyberhunt winner 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed 350 lessons completed 400 lessons completed 450 lessons completed 500 lessons completed 550 lessons completed
Hi Anne,
How are you and Gary going? Love to hear!
Debbie