Top 8 Blogs from Dun Movin Ranch in 2013

By: Dr. Mike Guerini (


As we wrap up 2013 I wanted to take a moment and thank you all for reading my blogs this year.  I shall continue blogging and sharing ideas and thoughts with you all in 2014.  Here is a review of the most popular Blog topics I that people read in 2013.  Click on any of these topics to be taken to the blog write up to refresh your memory.  Please share with your friends.

Heat Stroke and Cooling your Horse

5 Benefits of Riding Bareback

The Geometry of Riding

My horse asked me to not be a trainer anymore – I … ?

The Horse No Longer Needed

Canter/Lope Departures — Hips Left and Hips Right

Cloning Horses – As a person who knows genetics — I am shaking my head

A Horse is not a Machine — Of Course

Have a safe end to 2013 and a great start to 2014.  Ride well, Ride Safe, Ride with Fun!


Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (

Anxiety Sabotage and your Riding

By: Dr. Mike Guerini (

Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to speak with a variety of people about their anxiousness with riding. In certain cases people explain their feelings as just being scared….but in truth it is more than just fear, there is likely anxiety.  Some have issue with trail riding, others with performance riding, others with general riding, and some with training. I know that anxiety is very real for many people. In fact, at some time in all of our lives we likely feel some anxiety.

Anxiety is defined as and unpleasant state of inner turmoil that is often accompanied with dread about something that is not likely to happen.  Anxiety is not the same as fear. Fear is felt about something that is realistically intimidating and dangerous. Anxiety combines fear, worry, uneasiness, problems in concentration and muscle tension.  The National Institute of Mental Health states that Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and can actually be beneficial in some situations.

Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening an entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. Sabotage is the act of destroying or damaging something deliberately so that it does not work correctly.

So if we put anxiety and sabotage together and think of it in terms of horsemanship we come up with the following: Anxiety Sabotage is a reaction to a stressful situation where the rider feels fear, worry, uneasiness, muscle tension and problems concentrating and the rider focuses on these feelings and thoughts and intentionally acts in a way that they may occur.

One thing I know from my coaching and observations is that horses can easily sense when you are feeling uneasy and have anxiety and if you give them the slightest chance to help you sabotage the ride — they will be the perfect accomplice.  Remember horses are fight or flight animals, most wanting to fly away from perceived, imagined or real danger.  Give them the opportunity by not being their leader and they will take you on the flight of your life.

Let me share with you three examples of possible Anxiety Sabotage in your Riding:

1) The rider is convinced that the horse is going to spook at the plastic bag.  So the rider stares at the plastic bag, holds his/her breath, rides towards the plastic bag and tenses all his/her muscles.  The rider is thinking…my horse is going to spook and run away and I am going to get hurt.

2) The rider enters the arena for a class and thinks the following: my horse does not canter well, how am I going to keep my horse slow and on the rail, can I get over the jump, maybe the jumps are to high, last week we clipped a jump pole…I know that we are going to have faults and the judge is going to see us do something wrong and we are going to lose.

3) The rider is going down the trail and sees a bush up ahead.  The rider tenses, holds his/her breath, stares at the bush and the horse comes to a stop and the rider pulls up on the reins, clenches his/her legs tightly on the saddle and the horse spins around and runs off with the rider.

All three of these examples are real scenarios that I have seen happen to people. I myself took a two-year old out on a trail ride a few weeks back.  Her first time away from home, never been on a trail ride (over bridges, on switchbacks and over a rocky surface and plenty of step-downs), all new horses around, people playing Frisbee gold alongside the trail, mountain bikes going along and people walking on the trail carrying sticks and bags. My first thought was — I must be out of my mind to take this horse with less than 60 rides on this ride.  But I reached inside and said to myself, I have done my homework with this little mare, she works off my legs, I know that breathing is important and if I talk to her a bit…this is going to be great.  Just to make sure it was great, I took the lead on parts of the ride.  So rather than thinking of all the horrible things that might happen, I focused on the positives (by the way — the ride was great and I am proud of this little mare).

Let me again say that I know anxiety disorders are real.  For those people with anxiety disorders I encourage you to find help and support from your family and friends and medical professionals to help you with this issue.

For those of us who encounter Anxiety Sabotage in our Riding — here are a few ways to help you overcome the problem.

1) Work with a good horsemanship coach who listens to your concerns and helps you develop riding plans and lessons to get you past feeling anxious and finding ways to sabotage your ride. If your coach belittles you in any way about your anxiety issues — find another coach.  He or she needs to be supportive and also push you a little outside your comfort zone — but that push needs to come with compassion and care for you and your horse.

2) Work on breathing and look into Tai Chi or Yoga as a way to help you learn to relax to avoid that muscle tension.

3) Talk about your issue with other riders.  Most likely you are not alone and others have experienced the same feelings or situation and maybe as a group you can work together to keep you from sabotaging your ride because of anxious feelings. This is your support team … ignore the naysayers in your life and talk with and find people who can help you become a better and safer rider.

4) Make sure you are being safe as you ride. Wear a helmet, put on some extra clothes for padding, and consider wearing a flak vest. Protect yourself so that you can remove the anxiety surrounding the issue of maybe getting hurt.

5) Be the leader of your horse.  Know that the horse feels all that you are feeling and thinking. So inspire a good ride by being confident.

Take a few minutes and ask yourself if the people around you are giving you the support you need, is your coach helping you, are you preparing and not over thinking the ride, are you enjoying your time with the horse, are you looking forward to riding — if all of these are answered YES — then you have the right team and mindset in place to stop sabotaging your rides.

I look forward to talking with any of you on this topic. If I can help you with getting over your anxiety and sabotaging your ride, let me know. If you need a coach who will help you…I will do that. I want to see you all succeed.  I thank Tammy, a mental health professional, in the San Francisco Bay Area for her great conversation and thoughts on this topic.  With her help I was able to prepare this blog for you all to read.


Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (

6 Winter Horse Care MUST DO’s

By: Dr. Mike Guerini (

As winter is now in full swing with cold and rain and snow, it is time that we turn our attention to some very important winter health care concerns for horses. Here are five MUST DO’s to make sure your horse stays healthy.

1) Keep your horse’s feet properly trimmed.  A balanced foot packs in less snow and mud.  Sometimes when people are not riding or they are a bit short on funds they push-off the scheduled appointment for the farrier.  Your horse’s feet are critical and need good care all year-long.  This is a winter health care must for your horse.

2) If you blanket, check under the blanket daily. If you blanket your horses, either you or someone you trust must look under the blanket each day to make sure your horse’s skin, hair and body weight are in good shape.

3) If you live in areas that get muddy when it rains — get the mud off the feet and legs. We all know there are some therapeutic benefits to a mud bath (so I have been told) but it is critical that you make sure the mud does not cake on in pounds on your horses feet, tail and legs.  Get that mud off every few days to make sure your horse does not developed cracked skin or bruises from the rough edges of the mud.  This also applies to the snow.  The Equine Hydro-T is great for helping get the mud off your horses feet.

4) Exercise your horse every few days at least. Take your horse for a walk on his halter.  Make sure he keeps his feet moving.  A horse needs to move its feet to make sure it is getting good circulation in the legs.

5) Clean the urine soaked stalls daily.  If your horse tends to stay inside during the winter, high levels of ammonia from the urine can irritate the horses nasal passage and lungs.  Make sure you keep those wet spots cleaned up in the stalls.  Those wood stove pellets make for a great absorbent material (better than shavings) when you need to get that urine moisture out of a stall.

6) Keep the barn ventilated.  You may think keeping everything locked up is great so that it keeps your horse warm.  This is true but you need to make sure to get fresh air in daily if the horses do not have a winter turnout plan.

These are just a few ideas and I am sure you all can add more (and look forward to you doing so). You are the primary caregiver for your horse and it is important to make sure they receive just as much (if not more) care during the winter as compared with your Spring, Summer, and Fall seasons.


Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (

Keeping Horse and Rider in Shape for the Winter

By: Dr. Mike Guerini (

Winter is a time where we might sit down to a few extra-large meals and have fewer hours of riding. So how do we help keep ourselves and our horse in shape during the winter.  I will admit to struggling with this each in my past once the rain comes and turns the dirt to mud here in California but over the last few years I have developed some routines that I follow to make sure that my horse and I are staying in shape.  It is not just the physical aspect but also the mental part of horsemanship that needs to stay fine tuned.

Many of you may ride out in the snow and rain but sometimes safety trumps the ride and we still want to spend quality time with our horses so these activities can fill this need as well.

Here are six suggestions and in some cases they work for both the horse and rider.

1) Ground work for physical and mental. This can be done in a stall or in the breezeway of the barn. All you need is a small area (6 feet by 6 feet will work, 10 x 10 is better). Work on side passing. Walk forward, back…do all this very slowly and deliberately. Disengage the hips or do a few turns on the forehand. It is amazing how 10 minutes of ground work will keep you and your horse in tune and burn a few calories to boot.

2) Controlling footfalls. On the ground or in the saddle, during winter when maybe we cannot ride beyond a walk because of the conditions of the terrain…working on footfalls is something good for both the rider and horse. Feel the footfalls, control the footfalls (aide to footfall timing), ride in time with the footfalls or walk in time with the footfalls.  Wait a minute you say — walk in time with the footfalls. Yes…everyone who shows halter should do this.  When your horse’s right front foot takes a step, your right leg takes a step.  We call this poetry in motion.

3) Ride at a local covered arena for a fee. If you are without a covered arena…budget for a once a month trip to a local arena that you can ride in for an hour of time.

4) Study the anatomy of the horse. This is not so much for the horse but how many of you can name all the muscles and parts of a horse. Spend your winter time standing in the barn with your anatomy books and learn the horse inside and out. This is valuable because it can help you understand how a horse moves and this will help you think about how to better time your aides based on the feel of the horse.

5) Rider exercise. Take a yoga class, pilates class, practice Tai Chi, or use some exercise equipment. Many of us who ride/coach/train do not need to take on extra “exercise” in our busy riding season. Think about your winter plans and how you are going to stay in shape and at your good weight for riding. Let us not have the horse carry extra unbalanced weight when spring rolls around.

6) Take your horse for a walk. On those days where you may not be inspired to do ground work…take your horse out for a good long (30 minute or so) walk. This will be good for you and the horse and helps in relationship building. Sometimes just a walk together (rider leading instead of being mounted) can offer physical as well as mental stimulation for both horse and rider.

I hope at least one of these is of help to you and your horse this winter and I look forward to your additional suggestions.  May you all have a wonderful Christmas season.


Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (