Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope everyone has a great holiday and is blessed with the company of their loved ones.

Enjoy the Journey

Nick Donohue

Saturday, December 20, 2008

More Snow In Portland

Ground work - Freeing up your hind and front quarters

This will be my next video in our little series that we are doing, but due to weather conditions, we can't tape it right now so I thought I would do an article on it first, hopefully, this week we will be able to get the camera going again.

By now, your horse should being giving its head laterally, willingly and softly, both with the feet standing still and with them moving around the front quarters. If you do not have this going for you yet, you should stay with the first two exercises until it is. We will assume that all is going well with the first two and it is time to move on to hind-quarters front-quarters. You will need a rope halter with a 12 foot lead on it to complete this exercise with efficiency, I hand tie all my leads and halters, but recommend for those who do not have experience with these to purchase a Brannaman halter made by double diamond with a tree line lead. You can purchase these at

Now to get started, you will stand directly in front of your horse a few feet away, you will hold the lead rope in your left hand about 5 feet from the halter and hold the tail of your lead rope in your right hand with a few feet between your hand and the tail of the lead rope. You might need this few feet to drive your horse with, so it is important that the tail coming out of your driving hand (right now your right hand) is not too short. When you are set and prepared, you then raise your left hand, pointing to the left and approach your horse walking in a line slightly to the left. If the horse responds to this and moves off tracking left, you will release and allow the the horse to lead around you, if they do not respond to this, first offer a little life in the leading hand (right now this is your left hand) by bumping it lightly with a little rhythm, if the horses feet do not break free, then use your driving hand (this is currently your right hand) by swinging the rope overhand towards your horses right side, if the horse does not respond to this firm up by tapping the horse on the shoulder with the rope. When doing this, though be sure to firm up enough to get a response, do not continue tapping your horse and have nothing happen, do enough to be effective, not only in the moment but in the future. If you simply tap, tap, tap your horse and don't get to the feet, you are going to get your horse irritated. Get to the feet, always remember that. Now while doing the above mentioned things you will also be approaching your horse by walking towards them. As your horse moves off and around you it should look something like this picture.

Notice the bend in the horse's body, notice the handler is not pulling the horse around them, he is simply leading the horse with slack in the lead rope.

Now that you can send your horse around you, you will need to learn to un-track his hindquarters to either stop his or direct his the other way. To do this and simply stop your horse you will take your leading hand (at this point this is your right hand) directly across your body towards the horse's hips, this should cause the horse's hips to swing out, stepping its inside hind foot up under its body and crossing over the outside hind foot. Wait, doesn't that sound familiar from exercise # 2? Go back and look over that video before attempting this.

If you wish to change directions, before you take the rope to this horse's hips and walk towards them, you will want to change hands, so that your leading hand will now be your left hand and your driving hand will now be your right hand. It should look like these pictures.

Once the horse is un-tracking the hindquarters (if you are not familiar with this, please watch video 1 and 2 on flexing and moving the hindquarters) you are ready to change directions. Do this by pointing off to your left, if need be pause your feet for only a moment, while the horse comes across with his fronts. If the horse does not come through with his fronts you will offer a little life in the lead rope by lightly bumping it, and finally if the horse still does not come through with his fronts, firm up and swing the lead rope overhand at the horses left shoulder, making contact if necessary to cause the fronts to sweep across so the horse will lead off the other direction. Then you will continue to walk towards the horse as he leads around you. It should look something like this picute:

Now a few things to look for as you get this exercise going for yourself:
1) Is your horse walking out? He should walk with life, and energy; if your horse is moving without life and is dull, this along with everything else that we will be doing will be very difficult. Fortunately though, you can use this exercise to both increase and decrease the life in your horse. If you are looking to increase the life in your horse, first offer it by bumping on the lead in time with the inside front foot, you are trying to increase the stride that the horse takes, do not hold firm, offer a bump with rhythm to get this. If the horse does not make a change use the tail of your rope in your driving hand to encourage forward. If the horse trots, that is okay, simply encourage him to slow down by reducing the life in your body, if he does not respond then un-track his hindquarters and send him off the other direction. Do not let him continue to trot for a long time, maybe 1/4 to 1/2 of the circle at most, then change his direction to slow him down. Later we will teach you how to drift the hindquarters, which also can be a way to slow the horse down from the trot without changing directions. Also, if the horse has too much life and won't walk, you will simply do as many direction changes as necessary until the horse walks, approach it thinking, "I am not going to make him walk, I will make it uncomfortable for him to trot, by continually changing his direction until he decides to walk and I allow him to." If you try to make him, it will never happen Let him walk. Remember that, it is something that can change the way your horse responds to you.
2) As your horse leads around you, he should be bent to the inside of the circle, with his ribs bending out and away from you and his head bent in towards the circle. He should not be looking out to the outside of the circle, pushing the ribs and/or shoulders in on the circle towards you. If he is doing this, bump on the lead rope and drive the shoulder away from you.
Best of luck with this exercise and as always if you have any trouble, please feel free to send us a question.
Enjoy the Journey
Nick & Jessie

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

Technical Difficulties

While I figure out my technical difficulties with posting video clips, I thought I would share this link. It is a YouTube link a friend from Arizona sent. I had no idea camels could be trained to do this.



Friday, December 5, 2008

Upcoming blog series!!!

It is important to ride your whole horse, many times people forget about about the back end of the horse and only ride front end, the problem with doing this is the hindquarters have the power and getting control of them will help you gain control of your horse. I am going to write a few entries on this, with a few different exercises to try both from the ground and the saddle. Thanks to my beautiful wife Jessie, I got a new Video camera for my birthday yesterday. I am planing on using this to demonstrate these exercises and walk you through them step by step. I should have my first video entry of this early up next week, so be watching out for these!

Enjoy the Journey

Monday, December 1, 2008

Buying Quality Gear Online

One thing I have learned over the past few years, is nothing beats quality gear, but it is hard to find, weather you look in your local tack store or brave online shopping. This being said, I thought I would offer some links to sites that offer quality horsemanship gear, from saddles all the way down to flags and halters. We have bought things from all of these sites and have only received top quality gear from them. - I get all my bosals from here, I recommend them with the soft core, these are nice bosals. California Classics also carries a wide range of gear such as the highest quality mane hair mecates and hand sewn wild rags. - Jessie recently purchased a new pair of chinks from them, and loves them(they are the cream ones she is wearing in the pictures). - This is a great Magazine and I would highly recommend a subscription - You want a quality saddle, get it here. - Sarah, makes great parachute mecates, Jessie bought one this summer and loves it, we recommend the 12 strand mecate now to all of our students for their snaffle bit rigs. Sarah puts a lot of time and energy into hand braiding these mecates and they are at a very reasonable price. She also carries the Buck Brannaman horsemanship flags.

Remember while quality gear can be a bit expensive, for most people, they will only ever have to buy one, so have why not buy something you can have pride in and that your horse can be proud to wear.

Enjoy the Journey


Congratulations Mary

Congratulations to Mary on her purchase of her new Horse Teeka.