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  • The 30 day colt start ~ Opinion

    As we get into the 2024 spring colt starting season, many people are sending their colts out to a trainer. Every year there's always a debate on how long a young horse should be at the trainer for saddle starting. This is my opinion on how much time the average horse needs with the starter. Remember each horse is different and some go faster and some take a bit more time. 30 days has been a quite popular timeframe for colts starts, but 60 to 90 day trainer policies are becoming more and more common. I personally believe in the 90 day start. In reality, 30 days to get from halter broke, maybe knows some groundwork, to riding well under saddle is a lot to ask of most horses. Obviously there's cases where horses are prepared to go faster, but in reality, when a horse is being sent to a trainer, it's going to be in a brand new environment, all of a sudden working an hour or more a day, every day, using muscles it hadn't used all that much before, and the horse probably didn't know much to begin with or maybe already had bad habits. Yes it is possible to get them ridden in 30 days, but is it really worth overwhelming them? 90 days gives around 30 days of groundwork to make the horse confident and safe on the ground. Just because the horse knows groundwork doesn't mean its to the level needed for starting. Then there's about 30 days of rider preparation, from saddling to leaning over them, to ponying and more. Then the horse should have a good ground foundation and be able to move on to 30 pretty good rides. Being in so much groundwork and preparation also helps horses muscle up so that they are physically prepared for riding. Obviously to can lessen the amount of time in groundwork and preparation for the right horse to make it 60 days, but 90 gives the horse much more opportunity for success. With all of this said, keep in mind that every trainer is different and that every horse is different. I know good trainers that can have a horse riding in 10 days and I know that there's trainers out there that won't get on a horse for months. This is also only my opinion, and I'm a strong believer in groundwork. Time and good training creates better horses, but blowing them up takes you back to ground zero. Just a little something to think about. Thanks for stopping by and good luck on all your equine shenanigans! <3 Abbie

  • A Few Fundamentals of Groundwork

    Groundwork is the base of everything you do with your horse. It establishes relationship, leadership, boundaries, and trust. It teaches your horse all the fundamentals of your riding or carting work, making the more advanced things less confusing for both parties. But what goes into groundwork? What should your groundwork program look like? What should groundwork accomplish? What are the fundamental components of groundwork? Everyone has a different groundwork program, but honestly, groundwork boils down to 3 things; shoulder control, hip control, and ribcage control, which come together for body control. For my groundwork program, the fundamentals I address are standing still, walking forwards, backing up, driving shoulders over, yielding hindquarters, and maintaining a round circle when lunging. Standing still brings shoulder, hip, and rib control together. When no pressure is applied, your horse should stand still and relax. Anxious horses have a harder time just standing still, so working on them being able to stand relaxed is important for their mental health and for everyone's safety. At a bare minimum, your horse needs to be able to stand for catching, grooming, and when tied/wrapped at a hitching rail or fence. Standing still is going to pretty much force their body to relax for that full release of dopamine, which that release is how horses learn. But how do you even teach your horse to stand still? Spending time just having them stand in one spot is going to be one of your more effective methods. Sit on a mounting block or something, and have them stand 5 or 6 feet away from you. If you have an extra nervous horse, you may have to go farther. Personally, I've had a horse that initially I would have to be 20 feet away from him to get him to stand and relax. If the horse moves from that spot you put them, lead or send them back to that spot. Bring your energy fully down when they are in the right spot. Gradually, you can work in, or work out, whichever your horse needs. Ideally, you horse should be able to stand still and relax no matter where you are, but for sure if you are anywhere within a 20ft radius. The standing still part of groundwork can be frustrating, especially with a high strung horse, but if you can get just standing still down, it's going to make the rest of your groundwork process much easier, and both of you will be safer both in the short and long term. The next part of my groundwork program, walking forwards, is pretty self explanatory. Walking forwards is drawing into you, leading, etc. Just forward movement. While we need our horses to learn to stand still, we don't want them to learn just the brace up. Horses who just freeze are going to be the most explosive and the least predictable. Your horse needs to be able to make calm forward movement and they need to be able to be led. Building relationship and getting them to follow you is going to be a part of this, and being able to send them out on a circle is going to be the other main part. If you are just starting out teaching your horse to make forward movement, I would recommend beginning with the drawing in, and accomplish hip and shoulder control before establishing lunging. If we go forwards, we also have to know how to go backwards. I like teaching my horses to back up to the wiggle of the lead rope. You can start this by standing a couple of feet in front, facing your horse, with the end of your lead rope in one hand, and a stick or whip in the other. I personally like having a stick more as I can push them off of me if they tried to crowd in, but any sort of "barrier" will work. There's 4 phases for getting your horse to back up off of energy. You will always start with phase 1 and if necessary, gradually work to phase 4. If at any point your horse backs up or even thinks about backing up, reward immediately by relaxing and removing all pressure. Once your horse relaxes and gets that release, you will start right back at phase 1. To begin phase 1, with your lead rope hand, raise your hand up in front of you and raise up your energy. You can raise your energy by simply standing up straight, pushing your chest out towards your horse, and rocking forward. If it helps you, you can imagine you have a pole between your heart and the horses head; you are pushing them away with this imaginary pole. If your horse rocks backward or even better takes a step backward, relax and let them know they did good. If they don't rock backwards, you can increase your energy by wiggling the lead rope ever so slightly. This slight wiggle is the end of phase 1. In this phase, the wiggle should not reach the halter, it should be purely moving off of body language. Phase 2 is a continuation of phase 1. If you need phase 2, you will increase the amount you are moving the lead rope to where the wiggle is reaching the halter. I recommend that you have your stick, whip, or barrier ready to place between you and your horse incase they were to crowd. You want to hold your ground if at all possible during this exercise so that your horse doesn't get mixed signals. Some horses will try to walk into you, trying to find where the release is, but you need to make sure that the release is in stepping backwards. If your horse steps backwards at all, release, then go back to phase 1. If they don't move after phase 2 for a while, or if they step into you, go to phase 3. Phase 3 is another level of increased shaking of the rope. You more than likely will want to have your stick out as a barrier because a lot of horses will initially try to crowd into you if you have to go to this stage. Maintain your rhythm and your ground until they rock back at all, then release. Once they relax, you start back at phase 1. If it is absolutely necessary for you to maintain your ground and safety, you can go to phase 4. Phase 4 is a quick pop of the rope. If you even think you horse may possibly get to a phase 4, use a halter and lead without a metal snap so that you aren't hurting them on accident. One phase 4 pop is the most you should ever need. If you get to phase 3 and it feels like you are getting nowhere, it's better to go up and physically back them up, then recenter both of yourselves, and try again, or if need be, go back the the drawing board. More often than not, the farthest you'll get is a phase 2. Repeat this backing up exercise at least 21 times, or as much as you see fit. Once I get standing still, forwards, and backwards, I move on to shoulder and hip driving. To drive their shoulder over, stand in front of them, and with the lead rope in your hand, point out in the direction you want them to move their shoulder over, and add energy to the inside shoulder. This is the same thing as sending them out to lunge. More often than not, your horse will move their shoulder over. The most common hiccup is them wanting to back up. If they do back up, just walk with them, continuing to keep your cue consistent. If they are a chronic backer, start with their hind end up to a fence to help them find the right answer. Be patient and maintain your rhythm, and your horse will probably get it in no time. Remember to go both ways. The other part to this is yielding the hindquarters. Everyone teaches it a bit differently, but I like bending over a bit, looking at the hip, and then bringing their head to me while I walk toward the hip. I have found this the easiest way, and with practice, it gets to a simple look cue and they disengage. These two can be combined into a figure 8, where you drive shoulders, yield hindquarters, then go the other way, and it becomes a back and forth, smooth, motion. These will build your horse's focus on you and refine body control. The next and last fundamental is lunging. If you have shoulder driving down pat, and have a solid hip yield, asking for the full circle shouldn't take much. That being said, teaching your horse to stay round can be very difficult. I like to teach roundness by asking for a trot on a large circle, like 20 feet or so. Gradually I shorten the line to where I get them 10-12 feet out. Starting out long will help them get into that forward motion, and bringing them in closer will make rounding much easier than being a board. If they just can't seem to get round, get them on a 12 ft circle, and take your stick and point it towards the back of their shoulder. Most horses are going to want to put their ribs out, and if you have them on a 12 ft line, they are going to keep their head with you, making them round out some. Use pressure and release with the stick, and eventually roundness will become second nature to them. Remember that rounding out can use muscles that they don't normally use, so the time frame can vary. Rounding out is just going to take practice. If your horse just can't seem to round out, doing a lot of figure 8s may help with building those muscles and movements. Groundwork is the base of everything you do with your horse. It establishes relationship, leadership, boundaries, and trust. Hopefully these groundwork fundamentals will help you in your horsemanship journey, or at least give you insight to how some people go through their groundwork program. Thank you for the visit and good luck with all of your equine shenanigans! <3 - Abbie Davison.

  • Building Relationship With Your Horse

    Commonly, people go for a test ride on a perspective horse, and the horse is perfect, but as soon as they bring the horse home, they are a completely different animal. The horse is aggressive or flighty or depressed, or more than likely a combination there of. Why is this complete change? Well, of course there's the suspicion of drugging, which is a very valid worry that should be investigated, but also where your horse is finding themself in relationship to you should be addressed. Different horses react to changes differently, but when you go test out a horse, you are going to be with the seller, who is essentially the lead horse. You are more than likely in an area the horse is familiar with, using tack that they know both the feeling and the smell of. If you just bring them home to a strange area with strange people, they are going to act much different. Remember your first day of school? How your parents put you on a bus with clothes that you had never worn before and a back pack you don't remember them buying you? Remember how you were ordered around by strangers and told to act right and it was crazy. Some of you may have been perfectly fine on your first day, but more of you probably thought you were kidnapped by a big yellow brick. Horses are the same. Some horses might be perfect with the transition between owners, but more of them are going to be hesitant, and that's completely valid. The best thing you can do for them in this stage is to build a relationship, but how do you even start building relationship? In my opinion, one of the best tactics for starting to build relationship with your horse is to just spend time with them. Hang out, groom on them, and otherwise just chill. A lot of horses like to have quiet time where the both of you are just enjoying the moment. Some horses will even want groom on you back as a part of accepting you as their herd. Quality time is so.powerful for building relationship. Another tactic to building the initial relationship is food rewards. This is similar to hanging out, but a food reward is incorporated to give an extra boost of dopamine when the horse engages with you. I personally think this is a great method for the initial steps to relationship building, but it also won't work on all horses. Some horses prefer just having quality time, but testing out food never hurts, just don't over do it. Use a bit of their regular feed as the reward and reserve treats for special occasion. After you have your basic connection, where your horse will put an ear on you or even follow you when you enter the pen, you can probably move on to playing "The Catching Game". The Catching Game is essentially approach and retreat; trying to achieve a join up with the goal of haltering. Ideally you want your horse to stand still for you to halter, or to even meet you and put their head in the halter. You can start the Catching Game exercise by walking into the pen with your halter in front of you so that your horse can see it fully. It is really important that you aren't sneaky and hiding the halter so that you don't create mistrust. After entering the pen, stand at the gate for 10 seconds or so, and give your horse the opportunity to recognize that you are there and the chance to join up with you. If they face you and/or start walking up to you, remain standing there. Many horses will meet you at least halfway, but extra friendly ones will come right up. Here's the three main scenarios you will have with your horse, and how to proceed with each type of horse. Scenario #1: If your horse walks all the way up to you, pet them, then halter them, pet them again, lead them around the pen a couple steps, pet, un-halter, and walk away. You can repeat this as much as you see fit, but more than likely you and your horse have a pretty good bond going if they come right up to you. Scenario #2: If your horse faces you or walks halfway up, and then stands, let them stand a little bit to process. They may come up to you after processing, but may also just stand there. Wait for a noticeable switch in their body language where they really settle and relax. Then, you can go ahead and slowly, but not sneakily, walk to their shoulder. If you get to their shoulder, pet them, then retreat. Repeat the process of waiting for the go-ahead from your horse, walking up to their shoulder, petting, then walking away. Your horse probably will start following you as you walk away, which is a sign they are joining up with you. If you get to the point where you can easily walk up to them, or they come up to you, you can go ahead and halter them using the process of scenario #1. Repeat as needed until you get the desired result of them being easy to catch or even where they catch themself. Scenario #3: If your horse doesn't really acknowledge you or even walks away from you in this process, don't worry. This is where Catching Game gets the title of "game "and the nickname of "Haltering Dance". You can start by slowly, but not sneakily, walking towards their shoulder. If they continue to walk away keep on following them. If they give you their attention at all (their ear being focused on you is a good sign of attention) or if they hesitate and think about stopping, reward by turning around and walking away. This usually will get their attention and tune them into you, but repeat this pattern of approaching, then backing off when they do what you want them to do (ie. face you, stand for you to get closer, etc.). They might need to recircle -or literally turn around in a circle and recenter themself mentally- but eventually as you approach and retreat, you should be able to get closer and closer before they move away. It may or may not take a while, but eventually you will get them to more of a scenario #2. Once they do get to that point, you can start following the steps of a scenario #2 horse, and gradually, you will get to a scenario #1 horse. Once your horse is relatively easy to catch, I see that as the go-ahead to start groundwork. Everyone has a different groundwork program, but some good points to hit is shoulder control, hip control, and a round circle when lunging. For shoulder control, essentially all you are doing is teaching them to move their shoulders over off of energy. Hip control is pretty much the same thing as hind quarter yielding, so teaching them to move their hip away from energy. Getting a round circle is going to be more ribcage control, teaching them to maintain a round back while on the circle. If you have control of their shoulder, their hip, and their ribcage, you have control of the horse. Establishing your groundwork, no matter the groundwork program, you are establishing more in depth relationship, boundaries, and are overall getting to know your horse better so that you can maintain safety mentally and physically. After their groundwork is tuned to your liking, you and your horse are ready for the next step in your journey, whatever direction that may be. The relationship with your horse is incredibly important to find success in your horsemanship journey. Hopefully some of this will help you, or at least if anything, give you a bit more understanding of relationship building with your horse. Good luck in all of your equine shenanigans! Thanks for the visit! <3 -Abbie Davison

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  • About | Prairie Diamond

    The Gal behind it all Hey guys, I'm Abbie, the brains behind the operation. I have been a horse lover since the start. After my parent's divorce when I was 6, horses really became my escape and little bit of heaven. I learned horsemanship from watching my mom train the Appaloosa colts she raised, as well as just from observing their herd dynamics. In 2013, my mom married my step-dad who was and still is a farrier and boarding facility owner. Any chance I got, I was out with the horses, trying out different things, sometimes trying out stupid ideas that would usually end up in a very annoyed chestnut Appaloosa mare and a mouth full of dirt. I lived and learned, and in 2018 I bought my first training project, an extremely fearful 6 year old mare with a rough past. "Koda", as I named her, taught me a lot about training and horsemanship equipment. I became obsessed with all the different types of tack and how to make it; my goats got to be my lovely live models for all my mock tack made out of twine and other random strings. Through the past 5 years I have really expanded my horsemanship and tack knowledge, competing in some mustang makeovers, taking on client horses, and learning as much as possible. Now I am creating tack for myself and others that is quality, handmade, and equine approved. In the future, I plan to help people through horses and horses through people, helping one soul overcome fear at a time.

  • Gift Card | Prairie Diamond

    eGift Card $25 You can't go wrong with a gift card! This is an eGift Card so you can use this online without losing it! ... Read more Amount $25 $50 $100 $150 $200 Other amount Quantity Buy Now

  • FAQ | Prairie Diamond

    Frequently Asked Questions What are the pressure differences between a regular, twisted, and 4 knot halter? Regular rope halters consist of only 2 nose knots. This allows for a flat but precise pressure. Regular rope halters are ideal for all training and horse ownership applications. Twisted rope halters are going to have a twisted nose band and/or crown. The twist allows for many points of pressure. This is ideal for horses who tend to be pushy as well as for riding applications. Four knot halters are similar to regular halters but have 2 additional knots on the bridge of the nose. These knots provide pressure points to better signal to the horse. These are ideal for training large or pushy horses.

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