High in the Uintas as I come down off the last bit of snow on the peak, I realize it’s been hours since I have been back to camp. Around the bend and I start to see the campsite, my orange Marmot tent is hard to miss in the beauty of the Uinta mountains. As I get closer my heart skips a beat as I can’t see Biscuit my trusty steed, I had hobbled him right here before I left and he was content! I gather up my speed and tip into a run in hopes that he recently decided to move from his spot. Not paying attention to my foot placement, I snap a twig beneath my feet and hear what seems to be the loudest crack I’ve ever heard. I stop out of surprise more than anything and then pops up biscuits head from behind a bush, chewing and looking at me like I interrupted his fabulous meal.
As I breathe a sigh of relief and start to think through what I would be doing if he wasn’t there, I came into camp and caught out of the corner of my eye my alarm clock. With a puzzled look, I started towards it as it went BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP…
I rolled over and rubbed my eyes after turning off my alarm. It wasn’t even springtime yet and all I could dream about was riding up in the mountains and how smooth and responsive Biscuit would be. As I headed into work on this Wednesday morning I began to think about all the holes that were in Biscuits training and what I could do to fix it. I knew there had to be something that I could work on to help get my horse prepared for adventures like the ones I constantly was dreaming about.
Fast forward a few years and a lot of research and practice later here I am today sharing this story with you. When I talk to horse owners I seem to hear the same thing over and over, no matter how experienced and connected they are with their horse, they are always looking to get their horse a little bit better. Horses like humans are all a little bit different and in turn, take different approaches to correct issues or problems. What I have found though is that there are some general tools that will help you get your horse better and be able to do it more efficiently.
I’ve come across horses that seem to be very calm and responsive until there is something under his nose or around his rump, these same horses tend to have some issues with having their feet done. Maybe not to the extent that the farrier has to be extremely careful but not the type of horse that he gets excited to work on. There are many reasons that can cause this type of behavior in your horse, what I have discovered is that there is one tool that will help you resolve these issues and continue to be useful as time goes on.
So here it is, the single most useful tool to have to work with your horse or horses in general is……
A good rope, I bet you guessed that because of the title of this page but I truly believe that if you are not using a rope to work with your horses you are leaving gaps in their training and what they can expect to experience living in a human world.
There are many good ropes out there I am sure, the one and only one that I use on a horse is this rope by King Ropes out of Wyoming. There are a few reasons why this rope is superior to others, first is that it is soft, I do not want a rope that isn’t able to conform to the shape of the horse. This means most ropes that you would find for competition roping are out they are too stiff. Second, it’s 60 feet long I like to be able to have options and length without getting all tangled up. This is the only way to be able to have enough length to allow a horse to get calm and not be putting yourself in a bind with a wad of rope or lead line. A coiled rope is safer as long as you don’t put it over the crook of your arm. The third reason this is the correct rope for working with horses is the honda, it’s designed to release quickly and not bind on the rope. This allows you to get out of an issue if you need to but also allows the rope to move some, getting your horse better with different sensations.
For examples on how to use a rope to get your horse better, consider a cinchy horse, if you are able to work this type of horse in the round pen with the rope around his middle. The length of the rope would allow him to go through the stages of figuring out what is around him and that it won’t hurt him while moving out and you are in a safe place in the middle of the pen.
Similarly, if you have a horse that isn’t perfect at picking up his feet, you can put the rope around a foot and allow him to kick and strike while working out that it is okay to have his foot picked up, all while being safe from being kicked.
If you want to get your horse better this is one of the must-have tools to your success. Click on the image or the link above to get yours today.
The second tool I believe everyone with a horse should have is this horsemanship flag, I have the same one and even though you can use a “Stick and string” or even a buggy whip to work a horse on the ground you miss a vital piece of the puzzle. When you use a horsemanship flag you end up desensitizing and directing at the same time, anytime I can get more than one thing done at a time with my horse, is the best. This allows you to work on getting a horse responsive without being afraid. This is the key to a responsive horse that doesn’t rear or flip over backward. So unless you love unexpected rodeos, you need to start using this flag and getting your horse safer and more responsive.
Springtime is the best time to get started using the best technics to improve your horse so don’t delay, the snow is melting and the spring pastures are calling.
These items are endorsed by DDH Ranch, check out our other posts on horsemanship tools and best practices.