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“My horse is too strong, what bit should I use?”

Across Facebook I see this question multiple times per day.  In my opinion, you should never be looking for a new bit if your horse is too strong, you should be looking into yourself and your training. Does your horse respect you? Do you have his attention? Many times the answer to these questions will be “yes when he is in a calm or known environment”. The problem is that we don’t live in a perfect world. You cant place your horse in a safety bubble. Scary and unfamiliar objects will appear in your world and you have to be ready to tackle them.

The problem with “bitting up” is that you will only cure the symptoms, not the real problem. The actual problem and the reality is that your horse does not respect you enough and certainly does not give you the attention you deserve.  If he takes off down the trail and refuses to listen – what happened? The answer is that his attention left you and went to something else and then he didn’t respect you enough so that you could bring it back to you. You deserve to have a horse that is so respectful and attentive of you that you can ride him down the trail in nothing but a halter. Anything else is in my opinion dangerous.

It is not hard to get your horse to behave like this; all it takes is some diligent groundwork and desensitizing. Of course, it has to be done with the correct amount of pressure and the right timing of your release – this is the key in any horse training. If you have the tools to cure the underlying problem, do not take a shortcut and only get rid of the symptoms. If you do – your problem is still there and will sooner or later appear in some other way, shape or form.

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From wild to mild in 100 days

Viska was a 5 year old wild mustang mare from Divide Basin, Wyoming. When I picked her up she was nothing but a four digit number with a knotted mane, dull coat and no life in her eyes. The journey with her was incredible. Little by little she started trusting me more and more – the first day with a pet and some scratches, second day we took the tag off, third day I got the halter on. I played around with different types of desensitizing and eventually got the saddle on her. The first day I rode her was when she was 12 days from being wild. Since I had done so much preparation there was no bucking, no issues – honestly a pretty boring session, just like I like it to be! If there is too much action such as bucking, rearing, biting and striking, chances are that your trainer does not communicate very well.

During our 100 days together Viska completely transformed, her coat got shiny, no more tangles and the life and curiosity started coming back in her eyes. I did everything with her, obstacles, trail rides, mounted shooting, barrels, cows and much more. I wanted her to be well rounded and ha horse with no holes in her training. The thing I was most proud to bring out in her was her curiosity. At the end of my training with her she wanted to go up and smell or touch everything that scared her instead of spooking and I love that quality.

Competition weekend came; my mother flew in from Sweden just to see me compete over the weekend. I cried happy tears as I picked her up at the airport. Viska was a rockstar, we did well in the handling and conditioning class and took 8thplace. Trail class was next and we aced it and won!! That was one of the proudest moments in my life, no doubt. We made top ten and stood there with nine other trainers that did this for a living, and here I was, just a rookie in the game. Ironically I got awarded Rookie Champion too. After it all was said and done I ended in 5thplace over all (3rdbefore the finals) and my biggest goal got accomplished – Viska got a great new home. She now lives with an older couple that completely adores her. Viska has lots of grass and two horsey friends. I know you can not save everybody but I completely changed the life for Viska forever and I couldn’t be prouder of myself for it.


Thank you to the Wild Horse Rescue Center for letting me represent you in this competition and helping me along with Viska. Thank you to my Mentor during the time, Chezz Perlini with Rafter P Horsemanship.

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Flooding or desensitizing?

I wanted to give my opinion on a very debated topic. How do you know if you are flooding or just desensitizing your horse? The most important thing for me when I desensitize a horse is that he gets to be okay with the object I am desensitizing with. I don’t want him to pretend like he is okay or freeze only because he is more scared of overstepping my rules than the object. A lot of times your horse will freeze when you for example is working with the flagstick. If the horse stands still and looks asleep, that is one thing but if they’re frozen in fear that is something completely different. If my horse is frozen in fear I will work my flagstick for a while, move their feet and then work the flagstick again. I want their feet moving to keep the brain working. Pretty soon, the horse will realize that it is safe to stand still, they’re not trapped and the flagstick will not kill them. And the best thing of all is that they will see it as it was you that saved them! Here they were, thinking that the flagstick would kill them but you got them out of it and helped them through it.

I want their feet moving to keep the brain working.

To not desensitize is not an option to me, especially not if the horse shows lots of fear. What is important though is to have a feel for the right amount of pressure, how fast to move along and when to release. If you got that you will soon have a brave, curious horse that will go through anything for you!