WARNING: this is a long one, take a bathroom break, pop some popcorn, get a drink, sit back and relax for a good read! :-)
Meet Marvin Thomey and his horse Flash, yes, the horse has no bridle! Flash didn't come to the clinic with Marvin, I got this photo from Marvin's web site, click on his name to go there read about him and horse training equipment (this link will take you to eBay, you can see more of Flash here and Marvin's sales page) he designs and sells. (Probably a good thing that Flash didn't come, Gilly would have been in love with this golden blonde!)
OK, back to the clinic!!!
This was on Saturday morning, Gilly wasn't there yet, will explain later. Marvin explaining how to get the horse to back away from you. Martha and Hess are also in the picture (we were at Sheri's in the Coverall arena....WOW...really, really nice!!!) Sheri has a PA system also so we all who were auditing could hear really well.
I had really wanted to bring Gilly to the clinic but knew I probably couldn't get the brat into the trailer to take him there. Even thought of riding him there, 8 miles, but he is SLOW so.... I probably would have had to start the day before to get there on time! LOL
One of the participants of the clinic, I can't remember her name but the horses name is Sly Fox.
Sheri and Max, her new horse, he is a big boy! Taller than Gilly but I think Gilly out weighs him.
After lunch and everyone was back in the arena they brought in a trailer and worked with a horse who didn't want to load. Oh, how I wished Gilly was there, he really needed lessons in trailer loading! The more I watched the more I wanted to go home and try to get him loaded and bring him to the clinic; even if I would only be in it for one day.
Finally at 2:00 I couldn't stand it anymore and asked Sheri and Marvin if I could go get him, they said sure! Then I said what if I can't get him to get in the trailer???? They said call if you can't and let us know. So Kim and I got into her truck and headed home to try and convince Big Gil that he needed to hop in the trailer and go to school......LOL....yea, right!!!
Got home, got Gilly haltered, he actually whinned when he saw us pull up in the trailer, Pokey had a sour look on his face though...(oh, NO, you are going to take Gilly away again...Gilly, Gilly....DON'T get on that white thing with wheels!!!!!)
I worked Gilly on each side of the trailer, just doing the squeeze game, him passing back and forth between me and the trailer and moving those feet. Then we went for the trailer, he would walk in with front feet only but the rear would not get on. Over and over we did this for over 2 hours, still no go! He would look at me, very unconcerned and say, "You aren't the boss of ME!" And you know what? He was RIGHT!!!!! I was not the boss of him, he was the leader and I was the underling only there to do his bidding. He's one smart horse.....I'll tell you why he was right later on....keep reading!
After all that work and getting no where, well, except for the grass being chewed to bits where Gil's big feet were churning it up. I called Sheri and Marvin, this was going on 5 o'clock and the clinic ended for the day at 5; they said they would be over after that. So I went back to work with Gilly but didn't expect to get anywhere. (I know I heard Pokey snickering under his breath, saying, goodie Gilly won't get in there, heeheehee!)
Finally at 5:40 here they came and 4 others from the clinic, I knew them all so that was OK...now we have watchers! But it turned out to be a good lesson for everyone, especially me!
Marvin started working Gilly around, moving his feet, the squeeze game again for about 10 minutes....then went to the trailer....guess what???? Gilly hopped in but he squatted down and his hind end was really shaking, then he backed off. I didn't think he was afraid of the trailer but something happened at some point in the past that had him fearful. Again he was asked to go into the trailer, this time with he was less fearful. Then two more time and he just stood there.
OK, now it's my turn to get him in. This is where the "I'm not the boss of the horse comes back" , when I asked he stepped toward me and I stepped back!!! Then he said, "See, I don't have to get in for you because you submitted to me by backing up; I'm the leader not you!"
Well, DUH!!!??? I knew that you don't move your feet when the horse comes at you and tries to move you with his head, neck or shoulder and I wasn't even aware I did it. But to the horse it's a really BIG deal, it says to him that you, the human, are under him in the pecking order so he is the leader because he caused you to move out of his way. To the human it's no big deal, here is 1,200 pounds of muscle coming at you and what do you do??? Get out of it's way, right? Wrong!!! Something so insignificant to us is MONUMENTAL to the horse, horse's communicate with body language and it's so subtle that we most time don't get it. The twitch of an ear, hardness in the eye, flick of the tail, shake of the head, stretching the neck, it's all language to the horse; so when we step into their world we should be able to speak "equus" the language of the horse, the language the horse understands.
So again I asked him to go into the trailer, and this time I planted my feet. When he moved toward me to move me I put up my hands and pumped the air toward him in a "get back" motion and he did, then he went into the trailer!!! We did this several more times, I had to keep being reminded to not move my feet. Finally it has become fixed in my head, "DON'T MOVE YOUR FEET!" Gilly looks a me a little differently now, he is asked to stay out of my space and stay a step or two behind me when I lead him.......yes, I already knew all of this but because of not practicing it enough I back slid and the horse took the reins, he was driving the coach not me. Such a simple thing and no force or intimidation was used just a shift in body carriage and foot placement.
OK, back to the horse and the trailer. Everyone there took a turn at putting Gilly in the trailer with Marvin's guidance and he did what he was ask, when asked right. He loaded and stood so we closed the doors and off we went to Sheri's farm. He rode fine in the trailer and hardly moved on the way over. We got there unloaded put him in a waiting stall and got him fed, watered and bedded down for the night. Kim and I headed back home.
Poor little Pokey, he was looking up and down the road looking for Gilly and would let out a pitiful bray every so often. He didn't want to eat, would get a mouthful of hay then go out and look for Gilly. Lucy wasn't too happy that he was making all that noise so she would howl when he brayed.....this went on several times all night long!
Kim and I were up bright and early to head back to Sheri's wonderful covered arena (did I say I am SO ENVIOUS of this gorgeous place???? Soooooo nice to ride in, weather is never an issue there!
Gilly was ready to get the heck out of that stall, he had companions on either side of him but he hates to be shut in the barn; he is used to being able to come and go as he pleased and he was none to happy being in there.
He was really excited to see all the other horses and wanted to socialize not work, "What is the matter with you human??? Oh, look there are two pretty girls here.....and Hess my beauty! Remember me? We went to a dressage clinic together??? Kissy, kissy!" Hess wasn't happy to see him, she was in heat and pretty PMSy!!! LOL
In the picture below you can see Hess in the background, she had just squealed at Gilly and hurt his feelings! LOL Gilly said, "No matter.....look small humans! I wanna smell them!" He was fascinated with them, licking their hands and smelling their faces which made them laugh! The little one (with his mom) had been crying but when Gilly stuck his nose through the bars of the panel and stated snuffling him he started laughing and giggling. He liked Gilly a lot because he kept reaching for him.
Marvin fell in love with Gilly also. He loved his big personality, his big heart and his playfulness; he said that those were the kind of horses he liked the very best.
He is showing me how to get him to disengage his hindquarters.
Marvin's methods are similar to Clinton Anderson but I think he explains even more than Clinton and it has seemed to stick in my hard head :-D a lot better.....especially the "don't move your feet" part!
Participating in a clinic is wonderful, you get to experience it with your horse and also to watch others doing the same thing but everyone's horse is different. Some will respond sooner than others and some don't want to hand the leadership to the human, they want to stay driving the coach. Gilly will turn it back over if you are fair, kind and mostly he wants a strong leader....boy, do I have my work cut out for me.
Gilly getting ready to disengage the hind quarters, this one wasn't a snappy cross over so we worked on it a lot more. We want him to pop that rear around when I just look at it, he can do it but if I don't look like I mean it, he is a slug about it.
More work on moving that butt! He knows it and knows how to do it really fast but if I am not on my game he won't be either.
The girl behind us had never had worked her horse like this and this horse said, "NO WAY not ME.....I wanna hang onto the drivers seat....YOU get off the bus! I'm drivin' it!" She went round and round with her mare quite a few times but she finally got it. Gilly was a real pill when Sheri worked with him for the first time when he was 2. He was jumping and flopping like a fish out of water, a real bugger!!
Just ignore the dumb looking human on Gilly's back! (good lord, I am NOT photogenic at all! I should just crop my head off in all these pictures...eekkk!) We were sitting out watching some of the others work, then we did.
The tape on the reins was for the one rein stop exercise. Slide your hand down to the tape, pull back to your hip, hold until the horse turns his head, softens, gives and stops moving his feet. At this point we were just walking the horses around if they went to fast, got too close to another horse we could do the one rein stop to get out of a situation we, the rider, didn't like.
After that we were to trot!! OMG.....Gilly wanted to really go, go, go he thought it was social hour!!! One woman just let her horse go where ever it wanted, she was running into others with the horse and did nothing to steer the horse away, I don't think Gilly would kick but one never knows in situations like this. A few other horses where pinning ears and squealing, no one kicked or even came close to it but I was not comfortable with it. When I was a kid and riding my horse another horse and rider ran into me, my horse wasn't a kicker or fighter but this horse was and I got hurt and scared pretty bad so I don't like being in that position, not one bit!!!
Marvin ask if anyone was uncomfortable with it, oh, yea, ME!!! Gilly also decided he wanted to head sling because I wouldn't let him go party! LOL Marvin said he could fix that, so I gladly hopped off and handed the reins of the big boy to him!
See Gilly does not like to give to pressure and sometimes will really put up a fight, my fault for not stopping this bad habit years ago! He threw up his head a few times and almost hit Marvin in the face, he said he could see the star on his forehead!!! Yikkess, bad Gilly!!!
This is one of the ugly head slings, not a high one though. Marvin is holding the reins down on the front of the saddle until Gilly gives to the pressure. When he (Gilly) gives Marvin drops the reins, picks them up and does it again until Gilly gets the idea that when he backs off the pressure it goes away. Light bulb for the horse!!!
Picking up the reins to do it again........
Throw the reins away and look, Gilly's head is staying nice and soft. Brat, he knows this too but is always testing to see just how far he can go.....with me, he gets away with a lot...man do I have a lot of work to do. This horse is not easy, that mind is always working, working, working on something; thank goodness he is a kind horse and not mean!
Marvin riding Gilly and continuing to work with the others, I watched from the side lines. Gilly did a few bucks with him and he got a crack on the butt and had to continue doing with Marvin told him to do, he is always testing to see if you are a strong leader of a timid one, I fall into the timid one on his back. More work coming for me!!!
This is what Marvin said about Gilly: "He needs a strong leader, he craves it; maybe more than most. He wants a strong leader that is also very kind and fair. A delicate balance is needed with Gil."
"One way to transfer respect earned on the ground to the saddle is to do lots and lots of roll backs at the walk, trot and canter and make snappy departures"
Well, I think that there may be some more trips to Sheri's for some lessons coming up. I don't have an arena to work with these kind of exercises; it won't work in the round pen. Will Gilly like going to school??? Yes, he does, he loves things that challenge his mind....I gotta smart cookie here and I will really have to up my game to keep ahead of him (I need some smart pills and my Wheaties for sure!)
At the end of the day we were standing around talking about horses and someone was telling about a horse that someone just gave to a girl because the owner was displeased with the horses performance at a parade. This horse has a good blood line and I believe is registered too. Marvin said to me if all the horses there were free and Gilly was a high dollar horse, he would have to get out the check book, credit card whatever and buy him. Why? Because of Gilly's big personality, big kind heart and wanting to please his leader. Gilly was always nuzzling Marvin, he really liked him and was given the name, "Teddy Bear".
Gilly has the personality to make a great trick horse, like Flash (remember the golden blonde at the top of the page?) She is a trained trick horse, if you look up Marvin on eBay you will see a lot of pictures of Flash doing tricks....and one picture Gilly would love, she is surrounded by beer bottles, standing on a platform and has one in her mouth! Remember Gilly loves beer, he would be in love!!! LOL So if Gilly comes up missing I'll know where to look..... Missouri!! :-)
This was one great clinic....wish I had tried to get Gil over there so I could have been there both days but that's OK, we had a WONDERFUL time and learned a lot in just one day! Is Marvin going to come back to Sheri's again? I sure hope so cause I will be there and be better because me and Gil are going to work on a lot this summer. I'm not looking for perfection, no, just looking for a better relationship with my horse and to speak his language more clearly to be a better leader for him and for little Pokey too.
On Monday after the clinic I took Pokey down to Kim's, she still had the truck hooked up to the trailer and guess what??? That little donkey went into the trailer for me in about 10 minutes or less! (sorry I didn't take the camera so I have not pictures) but he went right in looked around, checked everything out and then walked out; I let him turn around and come out front first, it's a long step down for the little guy. We will work on him backing out at another time. He did good and hopped in several times, I was proud of him!
This is what I saw after I put Gilly back in the field after we got home from the clinic! One big butt flying over the hill. He wouldn't come back to eat his supper in the barn, probably thought I was going to make him stay in the stall all night! He doesn't think highly of being in lock-up!
Gilly says, "Hey, don't you know I am a wild mustang and my side kick is a wild ass? We're outta here!!!! We might come down to eat in the morning!" (the sound of thundering hoofs fading away into the distance)
(wake up this is the end! :-) did you make it all the way through??? )