28th February, 2010

My appols Folks. I simply ran out of time tonight. No news or any of the usual. Catch you soon.




Gday John

I need a horsemans opinion on mounting..a simple question really but a debate that seems to be going around in circles with other riding members.. I have been mounting horses ever since I can remember by using the right hand on the cantle( I find it much easier) OK the rule books states that the right hand must be placed on the pommell because it prevents twisting of the tree and prevents unwanted pressure on the horses back.. This is my argument.. If a horses stands still while rider climbs aboard & the horse has the right attitude isn't that the important factor?? Not where a hand is placed. And to add to my argument I own a saddle that was given to me in 1985 has been ridden in, broken horses in with, bitten by horses, dropped on the ground & besides from numerous repackings and the odd job done to maintain it. The tree is in still perfect working condition...
Regards LD

Very good question LD. The Rule Book you speak of would be written by the British Horse Society I suspect and like most things that come from that Document, Horsemanship was forgotten. Imho, you are therefore completely correct for what is more important, a Kid in a Wheel Chair because of a Rule Book or some perceived slight discomfort to the back of a Horse. Yet there are no Rules for Obese people to rip the whither off Horses during mounting. So the number one priority should be safety and control, equaling 'Risk Management' I would submit. Therefore, hold onto whatever you like, back of saddle, front of saddle, knee roll or in my case, off side monkey strap in readiness. Well done :)





Hi John,

Just thought I would post a little response to my mate Steve about power tools used in horses mouths. I'm glad to hear that his horses did OK with their experience but I thought I would have a little look around the web and find out what others in the equine dentistry business across the world have to say.

I didn't have to look far, read the following excerpts and websites, 2 of the first things I googled up.
Bob Livock is one of the most experienced and respected equine dentists. He learnt equine dentistry whilst in the army. After leaving the army he continued working as a professional equine dentist and was one of the founding people of this profession in the UK. He frequently travels abroad to routinely rasp horse's teeth for many of the world's top riders. He has been used by vets on numerous occasions to help sort out dentistry problems.
He has expanded the skill of rasping teeth beyond the point of simply removing sharp points to enable the teeth to be shaped according to the work required of the horse. Bob does all rasping by hand tools and will not routinely use power tools because over the past two or three years he has noticed the damage that power tools can physically do to the teeth and the problems they frequently cause to the horse in it's ability to eat and work. Power tools cannot be used to shape the teeth properly and can cause additional sharp edges to form. In Bob's professional opinion the use of power tools for routine rasping constitutes a welfare issue.


Second site I looked at was a vet Q&A site:

Question: Most of the vets in my area use the power dental tools and have stopped the traditional floating of teeth. However, I remember reading research articles that suggested the power tools could seriously damage teeth, killing the roots. The article suggested this would happen unless water was sprayed on the teeth as they were being filed. None of our local vets use water but just say they work quickly so I should not be concerned.
I'd love to have an answer as to the safety of the power tools.

Answer: Click To View
Concerns have been raised about the possibility of heat damage if dental/power equipment is used indiscriminately. The research that I am familiar with was performed with a cadaver tooth in a vice and may not accurately represent the situation in the live horse. However, caution is definitely advised.

So yes Steve, my experience with a power float is single based but was with 5 horses, all had problems. The vet was power tool trained! You reckon I should get out more, funny your the one saying you don't feel compelled to write on horsey forums, who is it that is not getting out. I'm glad it has ignited some debate because it needs to be looked into much more than it has been and people who pay for a service deserve to have that service completed in a way that helps your horse not damages it, be it the tooth or psychologically.

I have a couple of little sayings in life Steve, one is where theres smoke theres fire, and the second one is I only get burnt once.

If I remember correctly I recommended Vets do their research, I'll up it to owners to do their research, I just did, and it confirmed exactly what I found out the hard way.

P.S - Another interesting snippet is that power floating reduces wear and tear on Vets and users, didn't I mention laziness in their somewhere too?

Thanks for the right of reply :) I only operate on one principle, which is why I agreed with you. If I meet One Horse that has adversely been effected by anything, then I listen to them, not Humans and act accordingly. Regards



Hi John
You have got me curious on the amount of food a horse should get. When you say a biscuit of hay, there would be a size difference with each biscuit as to each horse. My daughter has a 14.2 quarter horse who puts on the weight just looking at hay. Then there's a 16.3 standardbred who would starve on that biscuit if it was fed the same amount. Could you please, when you have the time, to podcast or put photos on your site what is the right size biscuit for each horse in work and the paddock ornaments. Also, could you show what else a horse should have each day to feed on. I think it will take away a lot of confusion with others horse owners who read your site. Thanks you for being there for us novices.
Kind regards

Hi Barbara, Shall do. There are roughly 10 Biscuits in a Bale. That depends of course on the weight of the Bale and of course the closer to the Metro area you buy your Hay, the less the weight an if you buy from Mediterranean type people, more often than not it will be weeds and half weight. Not being Racist. That is a fact that I have learnt many times, the hard way. You should have hanging scale in your Shed. I have, to catch out my Staff as few people can judge weight (City Folk). We feed most Horses 8kg a day plus pellets and incl Lucerne. We shall look at putting a more comprehensive data article together for you though. Regards





Thanks very much John, for the quick reply. I have now looked further into your Adelaide website, and am so pleased that I have found it!!!

Will be going thru from top to bottom. Just watched your podcast on feeding time, and am off to lock pony up, stockwhip in hand. As I said, she has little respect for me, and just watching that then made me realise HOW BADLY I have handled it to date. She does swing at me, grunts and squeals, knocks me out of the way with her back end, and has looked to double barrel several times. Am wondering if you can recommend a DVD or similar of yours, on the whole getting respect subject? I have ridden since I was 10, done pony club,etc, then had a TB gelding who I dressaged and evented for 10 years, a perfect gentleman on the ground.

Am not really familiar with rude, pushy young horses, so need some direction please! Many thanks, Elsa.

As Horse Trainers around the World say every day Elsa, "What you Manufacture on the Ground, you inherit under Saddle" So obviously, according to your letter here, your Horse is out of Control. In brief, do this....it is all my my site.

  • leg restraints training
  • Feeding time rules
  • learn and teach the 7 Games
  • Do the hide your bum

Problem solved immediately. Regards


John, Thank you so much for sending the DVDs. We are really looking forward to using your system. We've watched your YouTube and Podcast presentations and we think very highly of your techniques. We rescued three horses about 7 months ago, a yearling filly, an OTTB, and a previously unridden 8 year old Appaloosa brood mare (rescued from Falconridge Equine Rescue, http://falconridgerescuenews.blogspot.com/). I (Steve) have been working the mare. I had about 20 rides on her, both out on the trail and in the round ring and arena. Around Thanksgiving I uttered the fateful words, "I think I'll take her up to a lope, I haven't had her at a lope before (under saddle)." Well, the keeper broke as she stretched out and she started bucking. I was thrown after about 6 seconds and broke my elbow on impact.

This mare uses lots of evasions. After the first couple of rides, it was acting head shy and throwing her head when I tried to bridle her. I gently worked showing her that her head throwing didn't help. Then it was walking off when I would try to mount (fixed). Then the bucking started. She bucks really hard, often getting all four feet off the ground. Unfortunately, that worked to some extent, so now it is a learned behavior. She has recently added acting like saddles and blankets are the scariest thing ever and trying to avoid getting saddled (we are working on this one because it just appeared).

During my recovery we had a local trainer (who had worked with our Thoroughbred) start working her. I'm not sure if it is just two "alpha" mares not getting along, but the two of them really had problems. On the trainers first ride, my mare pitched a fit and threw her. She landed on her feet, and went right up in the mare's face ("showing her that I'm much scarier on the ground than on her back"). Since then the trainer tried several times to work her, but the mare would brace and look like she was just waiting for an excuse to explode. After about two weeks, we pulled her back from the trainer.

I'm have gone back to the basics (fundamentals). Working her on the ground a bunch. She is really, really good on the ground (even the trainer admitted that). I've read and studied the various pieces you have about stifle and sacroiliac injuries and think that may be a component of her problems. The trainer feels that she wasn't sore, but if I press on her pins, or just above the sacrum, she moves off as if it is not comfortable. She has had three falls since I've had her. The first happened when walking to the arena, we came up the driveway as a bike was passing and she spun and fell on her left side (fully saddled, of course); the next one happened while dressing her, I cinched her up and she exploded, running off in the stall and falling; the last happened after I broke my arm, I was working her on the driveway (just getting her to give her hip) and she got excited, slipped on the concrete and went down. Also, right after the trainer said she wasn't trainable, I was free training her in the Trainer's arena and she jumped the 4.5' arena fence. When she did, she banged her left knee badly on the concrete wall (cut, slightly infected, now healed).

I've had Debera up on her since we took her back (about 4 weeks ago) and she didn't seem to have the same brace/fear reaction. Deb weighs about 58kg. I've done a little on her back, and she seems nervous, but not explosive (I weigh about 90kg). The trainer probably weighs 140kg.

I'm planning to re-mouth her using your techniques (so I can get air brakes), and study your leg restraints training. I will add the restraints if she is still cranky, but regardless I want to teach her to hobble. If none of this works, I'll probably be sending you a video to get your assessment.:-)

Thanks again for being such a strong advocate for appropriate horse training. We are looking forward to her next trick and trying to figure out how to redirect it.

All the best from Sunny California,

Steve and Debera

Hi Steve and Deb. Bad Luck with this Horse. As I go through some of the few yellow parts, I can see small problems that may have compounded the various building issues with this Horse. Firstly, you cannot be a 'Trainer' at 140kg and further, putting such a person on anything short  an English Shire is 'Cruelty to Horses' So well done Horse. We should never cinch one up full and never in a large area. I NEVER back cinch such a Horse until in the Round Pen, having girthed up 70% at the tie up rail. The slipping on the concrete could tell me that the integrity of the lateral Mouth is not good enough for that is what makes Horses loose their footing. I would not be riding this Horse in an arena or a round pen, other than Mount up and short feel to see what mood she is in on the day.


The other comment I would make is that allowing a young Horse to have a victory (especially a suspect one) is a disaster but to have more than one is a worse. Hence my long term aim of showing people a better way to have safer Horses and to protect themselves. My latest Podcast shows this and proves it. He had bucked 4 straight off prior to that day. If you have a good eye, you an see that I commenced successful re-education of that Horse, within minutes and you could further see the Horse start to relax. So best of Luck. I will bet that none of this is the fault of this Horse. Regards

Hi John & Linda

Hope you are both fit and well.

Just a query regarding your re-mouthing DVD – I have a 7 yr old mare that I purchased last year that I am having some difficulty with. I have been very spoilt by first Jaylo and then Robbie who came home from you with excellent mouths. The mare is quite resistant when I ask for downward transitions. It is much worse when we are out at competitions. To get a good stop is very difficult as she resists strongly and comes above the bit. Using body weight etc to cue the downward transitions and stop doesn’t seem to do much. The back up is not terrific either due to the resistance. I am obviously failing to achieve softness and submission and Im not sure if my cues aren’t right or if she doesn’t have a good mouth to start with? Her last rider was a ten yr old. Teeth etc have all been done. Do you think re-mouthing her would be worth considering? Mare is a sweetheart otherwise.

Many Thanks



Absolutely Katrina, that is why I made it. Regards




It's amazing what you can learn on the internet!!!

OK Good, I'm glad you said that! Owners assured me teeth/back have been checked so I got fed up with the mare fannying around & did exactly as you said - got after it! It doesn't half make a difference when you get on with the job! It tried to buck on it's first canter, not bothered about being ridden, just objecting to being asked something, it was as athletic as a fat brick so I just pushed on & kept going! Owners are coming to see it tomorrow - I think they will be a bit surprised I'm actually riding it!!
Thanks John xxx
P.S Hat in size large please

Well done Lou. I think we have him worked out so just get after him but control any attempt at bucking. Well done. Send me a pic of the face of the Owners :) I think you just earnt that Hat :)


Good morning John
In need of help please, I found out on Wednesday that our mare was in foal, I was not expecting or prepared for it, we bought 27th March last year. Whilst I noticed that her belly was getting larger I stupidly put it down to being "grass belly" and had been increasing her food to help with getting her a better backline! Can't believe I was so ignorant, I even had her teeth done last Friday week hoping thinking that might have been her problem, dentist didn't notice and commented that it would help her improve her condition, also had her feet done he didn't notice either.
Anyway Thursday morning we had a new little colt in paddock, unfortunately yesterday he wasn't sucking, I call the vet (couldn't get our normal vet, away for a week) they suggested I milk the mare to see how her milk was and then feed him via a bottle, I did this (never milked a horse before) and was able to get a good amount for him, he still refused to drink. Once again requested vet to come out, they arrived on dusk, where I keep them has no night lights, mare was flushed with iodine and give antibiotic injections,
our little colt had problems with block bowel so he was flushed that end, as well as give antibiotics.
I now have to injected them both twice a day for next week, I have never given injections before, I'm terrified I will do it wrong, told the vet this and was told it's easy just do it!
There is no other vet to ring till my own gets back next week.
Also she told me to put mare straight on to suitable feed for feeding mums, my own vet said to change it over slowly as not to cause her problems with suddenly changing her diet.
Help please, I have been up most of the night searching the web for solutions to changing her diet and giving needles, so far it has me even more confused as what to do.
Thank you

Go to me latest Podcast Robyn, It is about injections. Also, add new feed progressively over a week. Congrats. Regards



I have been searching the net for some answers and found your site am very impressed. I have acquired a 3year old gelding who shows some stallion tendencies. When he came back from being broken in I was able to ride him & to lunge him quite well. I have had him about a month now. Yes he would try a few silly things but I would just ride them out.

A couple of days ago he started to get a bit toey under the bit so I decided to stop riding him & to lunge him. Normally this is no problem he picks up the paces I want & stops on command. Not this time he went nuts I gave up trying to control him & just let him run, When he quietened down I did manage to get some sense out of him but not to the level we normally do. I tried him again the following day & again he decided he would just do his own thing although not for as long. And yes I am one of those who lunge with a lunge rope although having seen your video will try without however not as young as I was not sure if I can move that fast, also do not have the pleasure of sand arena. Just have a round yard in the paddock.

Normally he is a good horse, ties up easily etc & I certainly expect him to learn manners but he has some traits I do not know how to correct.

1. He is continually mouthing things, anything he can will do. He pulls on the mares coat he will pull my socks and has even had a go at my knee(I am getting the dentist out to check his teeth)

Of course He shouldn't have been broken in or even ridden without the Teeth being done and therefore, this entire sequence of events may in fact be a non event but only that we didn't listen to the Horse who may have been communicating that the Mouth was getting sore.

2. He loves to be in your space & you continually have to tell him to back up. He will if you let him hang over you, which I do not like & I make him move away although sometimes I admit I move away.

I can tell that you need to improve in your Ground Manners Jenny and that will fix all of these problems.  Go learn and do this.

3. I read with interest your section on respect & I believe that is part of the problem I certainly strive to be the dominate one as I have been working animals for years & know that even with dogs you have to be top.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Read the letter up higher tonight and go do the 4 things immediately Jenny. Your Horse is not in it's Box. Further, it may be riggy but plus, a high IQ. That being identical to the Horse in this video.





Dear John,

I have met you a number of times and I really appreciate 'good horsemanship' as opposed to the now quite popular natural horsemanship. My horse and I spend a lot of time together, but often, it is spent doing 'nothing much'. Stuff like walking out in hand, then I ride him home . . . grooming, washing, going out for a greener grass pick, taking him over to the local nursing home for pet therapy. I treat him as I would my best friend (which he is), politely, with requests rather than absolutes. I even respect his opinion sometimes ('I don't really want to do that just now' he says . . . and if it is not a health or safety issue, I might say 'ok'). However, he is a very biddable horse (one chosen with care as I did not want to be over-horsed) and once he knows 'yes, I do mean that I would like you to walk here NOW please' he will. He is excellent with the older people we go to visit. He is very polite in my company and there is nothing that I could fault him over when we are together.

So, you say, what then is the problem? Here it is. In my horse's world, there are horse which are above him and horses which are below him, and then there are humans . . . all of whom, except me and those who prove otherwise, are below him. He is pretty much a one person horse (mine of course) and tells anyone else in varying degrees of 'tick off, you are not my person, so what are you doing trying to touch me'. even this, in the right context could not really be called a fault, because he is just acting like a horse.

However, he lives on a very public stretch of land, running with a herd of about another 20 or so horses. The public have access to it (it is Breakout Creek at the river Torrens where it runs out to sea at West Beach) and often, instead of using the linear pathway, outside the fence, decide to run along the riverbank. Now, my
(almost) perfect horse is more of a 'go slow horse' rather than a 'go fast horse' and in all honesty, if you are outside his personal bubble (about 3 feet) then he likely would not even lift his head to see you run by. However, if anyone does run inside his personal space, it has been reported to me that he will lunge at the person, just missing them (my thoughts are, not 'just missing' cos he could get them if he wanted to but does not because he is not a biter).

I was devastated when this was reported to me, enlisted the help of a friend to confirm the behaviour and sure enough, he does do this. She did it while I was not there, as I suspect he would not do that if I were there. On the first run past, she made a big aaaarrrrggghhhh noise and grew big . . . he looked surprised and stopped. The second time she did it, same thing, but lesser degree with lesser reprimand on her part, until the fourth time, she ran past, he made a move to come and she just went 'ahah' and he walked off! Went straight over to his buddy horse and told him that there was a mad woman on the river!!

I would like you to tell me if I am on the right track and how big an issue that you see this as being (he was never like this when he first came down to live at the river about four years ago - I suspect that over the years the public have 'done things to him' which has created this. He is a very sensitive horse, though does not act out his worries but internalises them.

You helped my friend Jade Watson re-train her horse Hank from a bad floating experience, and I know her friend Karina who either still boards her horse with you or did at one time. If you think it necessary, I would be pleased to pay for some assistnace from you, though I imagine it would have to be down here at the river. I doubt he would exhibit the behaviour at your place (only on 'his' home
territory) but also I do not have a float or car to tow it to bring him to you.

What are your thoughts please?

Kind regards,

P.S I am 60 next year and have had spinal fusion, total knee replacement but trust my horse to mainly ride him bareback by hopping on from the fence post as I find that easier. Our main pace is walk, with a little bit of trot. He is safe be be on even if the herd are running, and I have never known him not to check in with me when I am on his back and ask me should he run if he does get a scare. I say this just to let you know how safe a horse I have and what sort of person I am. I came to riding very late in life, looked after other peoples' horses for many years (Jade's included) before I got my own.
Had huge fear issues (being led around the round yard on an aged horse, saying don't let go, don't let go he is moving!!) of my own to overcome, still would consider myself a little unconfident, but not on my own horse. He is ridden bitless barefoot and usually bareback though I do have a lovely treeless saddle.

Hi Jan, Thanks. This is not a problem that can be trained out of the Horse as clearly, he is only reacting to Louts that have tormented him. Therefore, you don't want another Lout to make him uncomfortable. This one is outside of the normal Training requirements or reasons for re-training as the problem is with Humans here. I know this is difficult for you but I would be shifting the Horse immediately. Away from the Public. Both for the undoubted Peace of the Horse and protection from a possible Court Case which could take your House from you. Regards