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BITS 101

I split "horse owners" into 3 types:
Mommas, Buddies, and Leaders.
Each type of person has their own specific ways of interacting with their horses. Their horses act accordingly, in specific ways.  Often a horse's actions or personality is affected by the type of person that cares for him.
The first type of person is a "Momma".
Mommas are fierce in protecting their young.  They also tend to allow their "baby" to act as they wish and defend their actions to the end.
Mommas do well with young horses. Colts and fillys tend to feel comfortable around them.  They know how to "baby" a baby. They start to have problems, though, in their relationships with yearlings and adult horses, The maturing horse no longer wants to be under the control of a Momma. 
Mommas don't consitantly demand their horse's respect or ask for their trust, or obedeance.   A Momma, in the young horse's mind is to be run to (or over) in time of trouble, but otherwise can be ignored without repercussion. 
A Momma tends to notice every little thing about their horses. They know their babies, that's for sure.  Mommas want to care for every need of their horse. They want to fix the problem theirself, so that their "baby" won't have to deal with the problem. They don't expect their baby to have to grow up, be responsible for their own actions, and face the world on their own.
When Momma is upset, everyone's upset.  When she is nervous something is surely wrong.  A Momma certainly knows when trouble is coming.  When Momma runs, baby runs.  When Momma stands, babies stay behind her. When Momma shows fear, baby shows fear. When Momma is nervous, baby is nervous.
A full fledged "Momma" type person would be in heaven if they could only have their very own "abused" horse to care for. They have a nurse's heart.
Momma's horses often have trouble when the vet or farrier comes to visit.  When "handling" issues arise it's always the vet's, or farrier's fault.  Never her's, for not prepairing her baby to act obediantly.
She will fight, argue, and defend her baby's unruly actions with fierce determination.  There's always a "reason" their baby acts as it does and how dare you correct her, the baby, or tell her otherwise.
The next type of person is a "Buddy".
A buddy is a person that their horse usually enjoys hanging around with.  He's seems to be one of the herd, for sure.  His horse may even listen to him when things are going well.  He never takes command of his horse but just wants to get along with it.
A buddy can be emotional.  They may allow  their emotions to control them.  They may act out in either anger or timidity when unsure of what to do.  "Knock 'em flat" or "cry and run home".  
In the horse's mind, a Buddy is  someone to leave behind in time of trouble.  The horse doesn't need to outrun the threat. He only has to out run his buddy.
If the buddy is afraid, or is nervous, then his horse may tend to be on the edge of spooky or nervous.  Other times they may not spook even if the buddy acts afraid.   It depends on the courage of that particular horse.
A buddy is good to have around for that extra set of eyes and ears.  The horse pays attention to what his buddy pays attention to, but does not look to him for leadership.
The Buddy type of person tends not to have pre-planned actions to their horse's reactions to fear. They blindly react to their horses blind reactions. They didn't notice the clues their horse gave out before the trouble happened.  They didn't even want to deal with trouble to start with!  They just want to ride and have a good time. They want their horse to be steady, with no responsibility on their part to lead the horse through the situation.
A Buddy is often "dumped" during a spook and left behind in the dust.
The next type of person is the "Leader".
Leader's lead.  They are fair.  They are consistant.  They are observant.  They protect. They expect.  They teach.  They correct.  They provide.  They are easy to trust. They are calm. They may "act angry" but never "are angry". They make the horse feel safe, even in time of danger.  They know what to do even before the horse realises danger is near. They know how to calm the horse's fears.  This is "leadership" is what a horse craves.
To follow a leader is "life and safety".  To leave or ignore them brings on the "fear" of injury or death.  A leader demands a horse's obedience and trust.  It is easy for the horse to give it, as it brings a feeling of safety and well being.  A horse has no ego.
When things go wrong, Leaders figure out why. They come up with a plan of action to rectify the situation. They follow through with the plan. They are trustworthy. Leading is much more than just making demands of your horse and expecting them to do your bidding.
Here are 10 signs of each of the 3 types of horse owners.  These are only indications that point out to the possibility maybe your are of that type. The more you have the more you are likely to be of that type.

Steve’s Top Ten Signs That You Might Be Your Horses’ Momma.

10. Your horse doesn’t care to be worked in the round pen. He gets bored easily and doesn’t understand the need for groundwork.

9. Your horse is too smart to cross the obstacle.  Why should he cross when he can just go around?

8. Your horse requires at least two extra additives to its formulated grain ration.

7. Your horse's feet are in poor shape right now, as you can't find a farrier that can properly handle him and understand the issues he has with his feet.

6. Your horse’s shots & Coggin’s certificate aren’t up to date right now, as you can't find a vet that can properly handle him or even be willing to come out a second time.

5. Half of your herd is foundered. The other half could carry a cup of water poured directly on their backs without spilling it.

4. Your horse has at least two of the diseases that recent articles have been written about in the half-dozen horse magazines you subscribe to.

3. When spooked, your horse doesn’t mind jumping on top of you for protection.

2. Your newest horse has been abused by past owners. You're just sure of it because of all the emotional issues he has.

1. Your internet name starts with your favorite horses’ name and ends with Mom or Momma.


Steve’s Top Ten Signs That You Might Be Your Horses’ Buddy.

10. When spooked, your horse has a bad habit of bucking  you off and leaving you in the dust.

9. He‘ll do nearly anything for a treat.

8. “He‘s a pretty good horse…Once you catch him.   Well that and he bucks out a little at first, but he settles down all right.  No big deal, really.”

7. You fear hurting your horse’s “feelings” and destroying his “pride“. You just want to be “honest” with him.

6. “Hard to catch?  NO WAY!   He comes running at the sight of a bucket“.

5. You’ve went through a dozen bits trying to find the one that works….Well, not as good as you’d like. But it’s the best so far. Correct saddle fit has been an evasive thing as well.

4. Your horse will kick out if the rider behind gets too close.  So you “fix” that problem with a ribbon in his tail.

3. “He just loves resting his head on my shoulder.”

2. Your training philosophy hinges on the fact that you should be the “alpha buddy” and not the “herd leader“.

1. You’re the first to admit that you’re no trainer.  (Note: every horse owner IS a trainer whether they want to be or not.)


Steve’s Top Ten Signs That You Might Be Your Horses’ Leader.

10. You fully understand the concept of “pressure and release”, and how critical the “timing” is of that release.

9. You know the difference between "teaching a concept" and "demanding perfection".  When to reward the smallest try and when to ask for more.

8. In a new situation you don’t mind taking the time to dismount and lead him through, then send him through, and then ride him through. You'll wait for others to do the same.

7. When things go wrong it’s your fault. Not the horse’s fault, not the vet’s fault, not the farrier’s fault, not the wind’s fault, but your fault.

6. You realize your horse doesn’t act up just to “push your buttons“. It acts and reacts out of fear and trust.

5. You pay attention to your horses emotional clues. You are seldom surprised by your horse’s physical reactions and have a preplanned action to counteract or support them, as needed.

4. Your horse works well in the round pen. Groundwork is a dance, or is becoming one.

3. Your horse can be led anywhere on a loose lead rope. He is easy to catch, as well.

2. Your horse is a joy to ride. He is easy to teach new things.

1. You'll admit to being you’re horse’s leader. You cherish your horse’s trust in you, over his love for you. You act as the lead horse would act.