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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

Professional support for you and your horse!

Leading, feeding, connection and other trainers

Barbara: I was delighted to find your website. I am a new horse owner and like all new owners, am learning from research and experience. My horse is a four year-old gelding, who was raised from a colt by my sister. He has not been ridden as of yet, but shows good signs of being a good riding horse. I have employed a trainer who is going to train him in September. Montana has been saddled, cinched, and bridled. He has been walked with the saddle on him. He showed no resistance to any of this. I work with him at least three times a week, walking him, getting him to stop when I stop, backing him up and etc. I have lunged him. I work with him about two hours during each session. Pam, my sister, works Catch, her horse at the same time. Catch is 14 year-old gelding and is a great riding horse. We work them together because we want to ride together. I practice riding Catch and will continue to do so often so that I will be ready to ride Montana after he is broken. These are my concerns and are the area I need advice in:

After walking Montana for about fifteen minutes he may drop back behind me and try to nip me. I do pop him, and he is getting better, but the behavior is still there. It is almost as if he does this because he would like to stop working. What can I do to keep him walking with his head at my shoulder level and stop the nipping? He, also, will crowd me when walking.

Franklin: Try carrying a wand. Most folks call them whips but I don't. Something about 5 feet long should do it. Hold all the leadrope coiled like a ribbon in your right hand (so if he bolts he does not take you with him) and the wand in your left. When the horse lags behind bring your left hand back and scoot the horse's butt a little to keep it up with you. It will get in the habit of staying just where you want it. Also, simply raising the want in the direction of the horse 'activates' it. You have two seconds to reprimand a nip. Beyond that time the animal does not understand why he is being repremanded. I suggest setting the situation up so you know he will try to nip. Be ready to offer a well placed and perfectly timed POP right to the end of his snout and no where else. You can use your elbow, gloved hand or the handle of the wand. This is the only situation where I advocate a real POP to the horse. Set it up consciously and then you are still leading the dance.

Barbara: Catch appears to be the Alpha horse, which is not a problem except when they are fed. Catch becomes a bit vocally aggressive and runs off any horse near his food bucket. We feed Montana at the same time. Catch gobbles his food as fast as he can and then goes over to Montana's food bucket, runs him off and precedes to eat the rest of Montana's food. Catch does this aggressive behavior to all the other horses, as well, but they are fed later by their owner. Montana simply runs over to whatever is left of Catch's food and pretty much, is subservient to Catch. When walking Catch, he is often preoccupied with eating, but does not try to eat when you ride him.

Franklin: Correcting this is relatively easy. To stop the horse from eating when in halter, first put a rope halter on the horse, allow him to start eating some grass. When you want his head up, firmly and with as much energy as it takes, snake the rope under the horse's chin and say QUIT firmly. Don't say NO as it sounds like HO. Do this with more and more energy (pressure) until his head comes up. Then offer a short rest and a Good Boy. He will try it again and again. You must be very consistent and not allow him to eat when haltered and with you. At feeding time carry the wand. Put the feed down in front you and the horses, and do not allow either horse to eat. Simply shake/wave the wand at the horse's feet and not their heads, to activate the wand. Don't over do it. Then you can allow one horse, or the other, or both to approach their food and eat. You can ask either one to stop eating and back away from the food at anytime using the wand. The wand is not to scare the horse, it simply makes your arm longer and you a bit bigger in the eyes of the horse. Practice with this technique will allow you to become more of the leader of the 'dance' which is what you need to become.

Barbara: I chose to work with Montana so that I could exert my leadership with him. I am concerned about how assertive I am with him and hope that what appears to be a good working relationship with him will continue after he is returned to me from the training. I will continue to ride Catch while Montana is being trained and have been assured by the trainer that he will be very truthful about how he sees Montana as a young riding horse being ridden by someone of my skill level.

Franklin: The problem initially with sending the horse away to a trainer is that you are not involved in the process. If I were you, I would watch the trainer as much as possible and learn. This way there will be few surprises with the horse returns. This would be priceless for you. I train for other folks all the time and I give them back a very well trained horse only to have the inexperienced owner mess the horse up within a brief period of time. This is most common. Also, some trainers don't want to share their real knowledge. This is the mark of someone who's ego is directing what happens as opposed to a real horseman/teacher who is in service to the horse as well as the owner. GO AND WATCH THE TRAINER AS MUCH AS YOU CAN TO LEARN. What a concept, huh? You spend all that money to have the animal trained and you don't learn a thing about. GO AND WATCH.....AND LEARN

Barbara: I am interested in your training DVD's. Please recommend one for me .

Franklin: Probably the most comprehensive DVD (two disk set) containing the most information and technique is the Horse Whisperer in Greece DVD set. Over three hours of information is there. It has the most information, is very viewable, easy to understand and graphic. Barbara, Best Wishes and Good Luck to you, Franklin

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