Your Watkins Stories:)

Discussion in 'Training Horses' started by Hayley, Apr 7, 2011.

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  1. CruisenPhoenix

    CruisenPhoenix New Member

    Early Training

    I have sent both my young horses for some early training - I have been riding for over 20 years but have never started a young horse before, so was looking for someone to teach me how to start my horse properly from the start.

    I heard about Fred and Rachel Watkins the way you hear about all good (and bad) trainers - through word of mouth. I asked many people about if they had used a trainer and thought they were "good" for want of a better word. I had quite a few people tell me about them - some had young horses to break in, some had otttb some had just plain naughty horses. I heard one bad story only.

    I went and saw what they did, talked about what I wanted etc. both my young horses are great to deal with, solid tie, float, good for the farrier etc. I have had comments from my vet about their nature etc and the fact they never need to sedate them to treat them. Yes I have to keep it up (sometimes I am a bit slack) but the foundations are there.

    Fred has a great calm yet firm manner. I have watched quite a few sessions with my horses and others and have nothing but good to say about him (and Rachel).

    My two year old is off to be backed and ridden by Fred in October when she is three and I can't wait (I hope I don't make a fool of myself when it is my turn to ride).

    So that is my looooong Watkins story (oh and I love all the emails, pictures and updates Rachel gives!)
  2. lollipop

    lollipop Active Member

    Just a quick question, why would you want to 'desensitise'"a horse?';':(

    Also front and bacl leg restraints are known as a spider ( 4 legs) a sideline (for 3). Leg restraint training another "blah blah "term for spidering or sidelining a horse, i spose it sounds more professional.;):p
  3. domingo

    domingo Active Member

    So that you have to work harder to get him/her to go, stop or do whatever ;).

    I am currently working on sensitising my horse. I want to ride with lighter cues and have a horse that reacts faster.

    So - can't answer your question.:p
  4. sil

    sil Gold Member

    Desensitisation is more about teaching the horse to relax in what is otherwise a threatening situation to them, giving them the opportunity to use 'higher learning' to stand and allow a person to fix the problem, or to simply learn that some things will not harm them.

    Common desensitisations are being handled by people, wearing a saddle, wearing boots.

    More thorough ones include coping with flapping objects, strange noises, and being caught in a fence (hobbling).

    These are designed as challenges to the horse and presented by a good horseperson in a manner which makes it as easy as possible for the horse to cope with and overcome the challenge.

    Done well, desensitisation produces a horse that learns to relax and accept the safe haven of the people handling and around it, making for a happy and less stressful working life for the horse.

    Front and hind leg restraints are rarely taught together, the usual method is to use single front leg restraints to introduce the concept to the horse (one leg strapped up), then once he has got his head around that, front leg hobbles are introduced. Then hind leg restraints (one leg strapped up). It's uncommon to introduce hobbling the back legs as this is really only done for problem solving rather than as part of a desensitisation process.

    Restraint work can make or break a horse. Any horseperson doing it needs to have the welfare and safety of the horse in mind, and be focused on using it as a mental challenge for the horse to overcome.
  5. Hayley

    Hayley Well-known Member

    Well explained Sil**)

    You pretty much want a horse desensetized so it can cope with pressure and doesnt flip out when something out of the ordinary happens or appears to them.

    Btw my girl is at Watkins atm and can i just say i am EXTREMELY impressed :)
  6. lollipop

    lollipop Active Member

    MMMMM ok then it comes down to personal preferences in horse "training methods". I think I will stick to "sensitive" horses that can still cope with pressure and don't flip out when something out of the ordinary happens.;):D
  7. Roskyle Mr GingerbreadMan

    Roskyle Mr GingerbreadMan Well-known Member

    when I was reading your comment, I was not aware you were a trainer, I guess it depends on how people interpret the comment, It looks like a completley acceptable comment to me, seems like you are just wanting to know why they have chosen the said trainer? I don't see any thing that is negative towards watkins, as others have said #(

    anyway, getting back onto topic, I have seen many of you have mentioned "leg restraint training"
    what is this, and why is it used? what is the final outcome of leg restraint training
    just curious **)
  8. Jaana

    Jaana Well-known Member

    Leg restraint training is essentially hobble training.

    The horse is hobble trained with both back and front hobbles.
    The aim is to have a horse to not panic if he/she is ever caught in a fence etc to realise it isn't worth fighting and to wait until help comes.
  9. sil

    sil Gold Member

    I have one of the most sensitive breeds of horse on the planet - you can touch them and they will go forwards all day. They are not bred to 'flip out' and handle pressure really well - but they are still horses, and still need to be desensitised. Our role is to help them handle the daily needs and training for riding in the easiest, and least stressful way possible.

    For example we had a rescue mare in last year and she was very touchy and flighty. I desensitised her until she could stand, totally relaxed, while I waved and vigorously beat a buggy whip with a plastic bag on it all around her and onto the ground, and I could 'jump' the bag from the ground onto her all over her body. She learnt that if she stood still and relaxed, the bad thing went away. It helped no end with her overall attitude and made it easy to rug her and to handle her. If I had not done this, she still would have been leaping away from rugging etc to this day, getting upset by it. Instead she is relaxed and happy to take it.

    In your case, you would have deemed her to 'flip out' and this would not have been a horse you wanted. Instead with some work she is as good as if not better for many things, and as a result of more interest to more people. This kind of work can again, make the difference between a live horse and a dead one. A useful horse is the easiest one to rehome.

    I've described what leg restraint training is in my prior post. Leg restraint training is the use of leg straps, single leg restraint, double leg restraint (hobbles) and in problem cases sidelining as well (front leg attached to hind). Its purpose is to absolutely remove the ability of the horse to escape the pressure by use of the flight response.

    Done well, leg restraint training has a profound effect on the psyche of the horse, making it learn to cope with, and come up with new solutions for, difficult or dangerous situations such as having a leg caught in a fence.

    When a horse cannot run, he must think instead.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2011
  10. SMR

    SMR Well-known Member

    Lollipop and Domingo, your last comments are contradictory. A horses *"sensitised" response is flight - not the ability to face a dangerous situation. Desenstising is not making a horse dull to your aids. Perhaps you should visit Watkins - it might answer your questions and put to rest some misconceptions.
  11. Lokenzo

    Lokenzo Gold Member

    Exactly what I was thinking and well said SMR :) Kit came home with a very 'sensitive' and soft mouth and is perfectly set up for his future as a saddle horse!
  12. domingo

    domingo Active Member

    Of course it is making a horse dull to a point. If you train them so you can wave and throw everything at them, try moving a finger to get them to move. Doesn't work. I am not saying that horses don't need training to react appropriately to scary things, but that's just training after all.

    no thanks
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2011
  13. shadowkat

    shadowkat Well-known Member

    I wish my old TB mare had been leg restraint trained! The amount of times she's ripped her legs open putting them through fences - this one small chunk of training could have saved my mum huge amounts in vet bills and time.

    Initially I really disliked the idea. Then I saw Fred at work at the O'Leary clinic, and I was so impressed - it makes a horse turn off it's flight/panic response, and think, and focus on what's going on. It was amazing.
  14. sil

    sil Gold Member

    You're welcome to come and have a ride of one of mine. You may have to readjust what 'light' is though :)

    Here is a video of one of ours, first ride back from Watkins. FF to around 3.30 for the ridden part. At 5.10 you might need to squint to see the aid for trot.

    Last edited: Apr 24, 2011
  15. SMR

    SMR Well-known Member

    Yep, that is just training, but when you have an over-reactive horse, a lot more skill is required to teach the horse to listen to the handler and not just take over with its own instinctive flight response (you don't have to call it desensitising, but that's the common term).

    The skill is teaching a horse to be able to respond appropriately - point a finger to get them to move is easy when the horse is listening, as is asking a horse to stand whilst a stock whip is cracked next to them. There is certainly no dulling involved and, in fact, the more sensitive a horse is, the quicker they learn - the quicker they react to what is being asked be it move from a finger or override their flight response.
  16. taylor

    taylor Well-known Member

    I don't see desensitising a horse as dulling it to the aids - I see it as teaching the horse to listen to your aids in any situation. For example if you are riding past a flapping line of bunting at a show, rather than spooking and going sideways, the horse knows that your aids (whatever they may be) are what it listens to rather than outside influences. It doesn't mean the horse is not sensitive to your aids, it means it is listening to you rather than what is going on around it.
  17. Lin

    Lin Well-known Member

    It's ok to be "truthful" (truth according to who?) but this not the thread for it. I don't know how many times it can be said that the OP of this thread, Hayley, wants success stories about horses that have gone to Watkins. She's excited that her pony has gone off to a breaker, that she's chosen of her own free will, and wants to hear other people talk about their Watkins good news stories. Its like saying hey, I'm going to Bali, tell me about your great holidays there. She doesn't want to get a lecture on how to choose a holiday destination or why Bali is the pits.

    It clearly gets up the nose of other trainers or people who aren't so enamoured with Watkins so they just have to put their digs in. Well, sorry, you just come off looking like a bunch of sour grapes. If this was Watkins themselves spruiking their wares then fair game, but it's not.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2011
  18. Mod 5

    Mod 5 Moderator

  19. Hayley

    Hayley Well-known Member

    I want to make clear that I am NOT running a marketing campaign for a company I do not own nor for people I have never met, as some of you like to think.
  20. lollipop

    lollipop Active Member

    No they are not contradictory you just do not understand what I am saying or understand the principle of what I am saying.;) Neither do I need to go to any site where they 'desentise' horses and use 'leg restraint' training, there are many ways to teach a horse to stand ' while tangled in a fence without strapping its legs together.**) There is also a big difference between a soft horse and a light horse, a horse can feel a fly land on him take that away and you are on the path to a certain amount of dullness. If a horse shies or 'flips out' that is because his self preservation has kicked in. It is only a lack of horsemanship and thought that allows the human to bring the horse to his level instead of learning some new skills that do not include "methods" but a bit of brain power to rise to the horses level. The human believes he is the greatest being on this earth I think they are the stupidest.:} If the role was reversed would you like to be brought down to silly billy level? I don't think so:}
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