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You've found the Mary-Dixon page about horsemanship.  Horses are my passion and my obsession.  They have helped me become a kinder, more confident, more patient person.  What they have taught me about them and taught me about myself is immeasureable.  I now try to teach folks about the nature of horses and how to understand each other which leads to a more confident human and a more confident little darling.
Adventure Horse Riding in NYS


It Simply Takes the Time It Takes !

Going down a steep step.

This is one of the better lessons in horse riding that I have learned.  The actual quote goes as follows:  it takes the time it takes and it will take less time
The translation of this is that every single horse is different.  What may take one little darling only 5 minutes to learn, it may just as easily take another horse 5 days or 3 weeks or whatever to learn the same darn thing. 

So, it can be frustrating.  And aggravating.  It is  really Important to remember that when you are teaching or training your horse, it is NOT about the GOAL – it is about the partnership.
Once we adults get that darn GOAL THING in our heads when it comes to horses we get stressed out, crappy, impatient and all kinds of bad things.

We got into horses because we love them and to relax and have fun.  Once we start doing the stupid goal thing we’ve negated all the reasons we got into horses in the first place
So, spend the time needed with your horses – take breaks – you don’t need to do “drill” sessions that is bothersome to  you and your darling.  Try to make it a game.

Each session generally, though not always, gets better.  And takes less time.

When you stick with it for however long you need to do it, it will go from maybe 3 hours to do something to just 5 minutes, then pretty soon, it takes no time whatsoever.

Sacking Out.

Adventure Horse Riding in NYS            Smilla13@gmail.com  (Mary Dixon)         www.RideNYS.com


The Living Patience Pole !

My hot Paso Fino has a really tough time standing still – especially on her way back to or simply facing the barn.

 I request her to stand still – she can stop but when wound up  she jigs around – then I ask again – she jigs again – then I ask again. 

Well, you get the picture.

Clinicians use what they call a patience pole to teach their horses to stand still and learn to be patient.  They stand there for hours at a time.

I, instead, have become the living patience pole.  When, eventually and finally she stands still, we just sit there and wait – and wait – and wait – for 5 minutes or 10 minutes which feels like an eternity – can you say boring?

We do this over and over and over and over again at various places where she gets jiggy.  It takes bunches of repetition but it works.  She is getting it.  Sometimes.

HINT:  You do not want to be crabby when doing this – and you can just spend 10 or 15 minutes at a time on it –however much you can stand without going crazy.

Adventure Horse Riding in NYS            Smilla13@gmail.com  (Mary Dixon)         www.RideNYS.com


BACK AGAIN to the Walk-Stop Exercise - and Hanging in There !!!

On Jan 13 thereabouts I was talking about the importance of the walk stop exercise – 2.5 months ago -  walk 3 or 5 steps, then a complete stop, then again.   The exercise teaches them to listen to you.  It is good for the go go go horse and for the slow slow slow horse.
I learned this from John Lyons years ago and have always used it in training or retraining one of my darlings.  It has always worked.

BUT, my goodness, it takes PATIENCE, but sure worth it in the end.

Back to my crazy little high speed 18 year old Paso Fino that I bought this fall.  I now have 32 hours on her.  I do get a tad discouraged and a bit frustrated in teaching her to slow down.  So, a while back, and it did take forever, she would be able to get to the 60 steps in just walking but no more and not consistently
So,  weather permitting – it has been a bear with snow, ice and cold in upstate NY , I just kept working on it when I could .  Can you say boring ?  and frustrating, etc. ?

Well, today we broke the 200 walk step and complete and wait stops – twice !

This may not sound like a BIG DEAL with a lot of folks – but it shows you the patience and repetition and consistency you need when it comes to working with the little darlings.  You just can’t give up.

My Jose was similar to Cassie – and he was my greatest & most difficult  partner ever – and I got it done with Jose and I have no doubt I can get it done with Cassie.

Cassie and Mary

So, I guess, as I blather on and on, my advice to you is just hang in there.  It will happen, even with a heck of a hot horse.

This is the stuff  I breathe,  love and live for.  

Adventure Horse Riding in NYS            Smilla13@gmail.com  (Mary D ixon)        www.RideNYS.com


Leadership: Nature's Way

Nature’s Way: Every Herd Needs A Leader

It is THE LAW of nature that every herd needs a leader.  If you and your horse are together, then there must be a leader and that leader had best be you.  There is  always what we call “testing” by a horse.  What he is actually doing every single time he tests you is actually checking out who is the leader of the herd.  Since it is you and him  together, you have a herd of two. 

If you allow him to ignore you or do his own thing, he is then the leader.  This is not a good position for you and soon you will have a rambunctious, and possible dangerous horse on your hands.  You will not trust him because he does not trust you.  
Tiffy - the leader of our herd

                  Adventure Horse Riding in NYS 
          Smilla13@gmail.com  (Mary Dixon)                                                                            www.RideNYS.com


Consistency is the Key for Your Little Darling !

When it comes to working with horses, consistency is the key ...  " Consistency is your greatest ally and inconsistency is your worst enemy".

This is one of the best lessons I have ever learned and it makes a HUGE difference in the interaction between you and your little darling.  Why?  Because he is not confused and "gets it" - you gave him the real opportunity to understanding a behavior that you want from him.

A few simple examples:

If you expect him to always drop his head for haltering then that is what you need toalways insist on.
If you allow him sometimes get away with raising his head in the air and you still halter him and then other times you expect the head to be lowered, you are inconsistent and confusing to your horse.

It really does mess him up because he then thinks both actions are just fine.

If you sometimes let him rush out of his stall and other times require him to wait for you.

If you allow him to jig back to the barn and other times require that he quietly walks back.

If you allow him to stomp his feet for feeding and you feed him and other times you  insist that he is mannerly or allow him to head dive in the feed bucket and later don't allow it.

If you allow him to move when you get up on the saddle and climb up there anyways and other times you require him to stand still.

When you ask your horse to stop and allow him to leak forward or move out on his own instead of doing what you have asked him to do.

And the list goes on and on and on ....

You are always training your horse and too often it is easy to forget that.  They are aware of nearly everything you do when you are around them.

So, to help your little darling always be good and well-mannered, be aware of what you are doing and BE CONSISTENT.


Adventure Horse Riding in NYS            Smilla13@gmail.com  (Mary Dixon)         www.RideNYS.com


The Power of the Walk/Stop Exercise and 10 Hours of Riding

I have a new horse, a Paso Fino, and can you say hot, and crazy as a bedbug !  Oh my goodness, spin, and way, way too fast.  The action "walk" just was not in her vocabulary.  Not since my beloved Jose have I had a horse as scared and wacko as this little girl.

So after 5 days just riding her in the playground (my work area) and forever and ever and ever teaching her how to do walk/stop she finally learned to listen.  We did not get to her to being able to walk 4 steps, she could only do 3 steps before she sped way up again, but she finally did catch on to  the "stop" and the "release".

Once Cassie caught on to walk 3 steps, stop, 3 steps, stop and wait for me I then took her out onto the trail.  Needless to say, the first ride scared the bejesus out of me.  BUT, she would actually stop when I asked her too - every single 3 steps before we would start up again.  Did that for 2 hours on the trail, then next day 3 hours, then next day 2 hours, and I have to admit the first 2 days were pretty awful, but my goodness, the third, fourth and fifth days - what a HUGE improvement.

Her head finally dropped and we ACTUALLY COULD WALK quite a distance, and yesterday I started taking her down hills which I would have never, ever dreamed possible.

So, we are now in a partnership - she trusts me and I trust her - more work needs to be done, she is not perfect but I am no longer afraid of her nor is she afraid of me.

I had forgotten how well this works - ALWAYS - I have done it with many outlaw horses through the years but it has been a spell since I have had a new horse. 

Try it and you will be impressed with the outcome.

Remember, it takes the time it takes and it will take less time.

The best to you.

Cassie, Paso Fino

Adventure Horse Riding in NYS            Smilla13@g  Smilla13@gmail.com  (Mary Dixon)                                                          


Discouragement and Hurt Feelings from Horses

I used to tell folks all the time not to take incidents, accidents, etc., personally.  Then a few years ago after a crash I was so emotionally hurt that my horse would do that to me that I almost just sold him.  And, I pretty much ignored him for almost 6 months.

Well, my girlfriend is now in the same situation.  Her horse laid down yesterday, in the deep snow, twice.  When she went to mount him again in all the bulky winter gear, he took off.  She had to trudge through the snow at night, thank heavens there was a moon out there, and she was scared and exhausted.  We rounded up a very scared horse who kept running away and ponied him back to the ranch.  

First words out of her mouth were "he going to auction !".  When I inquired how she was doing this morning, she texted back and told both my other girlfriend and me that she was seriously thinking of giving up riding.

Hopefully, after a few days, she will settle down and rethink the situaton.  Horses are just fantastic at teaching humility and discouragement and she loves her horses dearly.

My girlfriend and the Outlaw ~  in better weather !  

Adventure Horse Riding in NYS            Smilla13@gmail.com  (Mary Dixon)         www.RideNYS.com