Friday, February 22, 2008

Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot????

Folks, this is a public service announcement right here. Anyone who works with horses, or knows someone who does, needs to pay attention to this.

There is a man out there, advertising that he has the final solution to a bucking horse, a device that will stop the buck in its tracks, which is humane and an effective training tool.

He's full of shit.

I refuse to link to the site here, but I will tell you the name of the device. It is the Barnes No Buck Horse Trainer. Look it up if you like.

This device is an adjustable leather halter, with aircraft cable run through pulleys on the ends of the cheek pieces, up and around the ears of the horse. Once you have the halter on, you simply tie a rein to the conveniently looped ends of the cable, and hook it over your saddle horn.

I'm going to quote here the inventor himself on the effect of the device.

"It can't buck you - when he puts his head down it puts pressure on the nerves and paralyzes the horse. A horse can't buck very hard with its head up."

W. T. F.

Ok let's take this one step at a time for those of my readers who may not be familiar with one of the basic concepts of horse training for fun and profit.

The entire basis of training a prey animal is, at its heart, pressure, and release. The main response of an animal which has the instincts of those who are hunted is to move away from pressure. This may sound backwards on some things, but let me explain.

When you are teaching a horse to drive, that is, teaching him what you want when you direct him with the reins one way or another, you pull on the rein on the side you want him to go. By moving in that direction he is positioning his body and his head to ease that pressure, moving the point of contact away from the direction the pressure is coming from.

Same thing on round penning. You put "pressure" on the back half of the horse in the form of body language, a swinging rope, or a lunge whip making noise, and they move forward. Move your body to be in front of his shoulder and you've moved the pressure from the back to the front, and he slows or stops.

In this way we make doing what we want the horse to do the easy thing for it to do. Consistent application of pressure and release will get you from Point A to Point B in a consistent fashion, is easy for the horse to learn, and is a solid foundation on which to build a relationship of trust with your horsey friend.

These are signals that are readily understood by the horse because it fits in with their mentality. Yours too. Think about it, if someone pokes you, you move away.

Now, let's consider once again this so-called miracle device. The steel cable runs up and around the ears, with a connecting... something... spreading the effect across the poll. A definite pressure point and one that every trainer calls upon at some point or other, in my experience usually in the form of using the halter to pull a horse's head down for the bridle, or using draw reins to correct a horse's headset.

But the point of this device is not to get the horse to lower his head. No, friends, that would make entirely too much sense. The point of this amalgamation of bad ideas is to keep the horse's head up. When the horse lowers his head, the "rein" attached to this torture device pulls on the steel cable, which puts pressure on the poll and around the ears, pushing the horse's head down. Lowering the head in response to the downward pressure only increases that pressure, which, duh, becomes painful.

Eventually, the confused equine learns that pressure at the poll means "put your head up!" Which would undoubtedly effect future training efforts in the area of bridling etiquette, and leading at halter. After all, who doesn't want to refine their horse's leading until he'll walk quietly beside you without you ever having to touch the lead?

And, dear friends, this is all without ever mentioning the fact that a horse who truly wants to buck and be cranky will learn that the only thing stopping him is that device. Which means, the instant you saddle up without it, you're getting piled, and piled hard.

And the charlatan passing this... thing.... off as an effective and humane training tool has the gall to not only offer to buy any horse that can buck him off wearing it (his brother has a string of rodeo broncs, ya know,) but to charge over two hundred dollars for it.

Sure, it might work, but I have to wonder how many horses who are simply confused, nervous, or lacking in confidence in the human race (well with this sorry specimen running around can we really blame them?) are going to be tortured because of one man's stupidity.

If this dude was any closer, I'd have to take a road trip, just so I could slap him upside his damn fool head.

I'll leave you with a quote from his promotional video....

"This is perfect for children, older people, and wimmin and such."

And my response to that quote......

"Fuck you buddy, learn to ride."


Anonymous said...

O.K. So this wasn't a good idea..I just heard about it on A western TV show, and knew I had never heard of a NO Buck solution to all horses to make them safe for everyone... Sounds to me that it would bring out the killer instinct if any thing ever would..
I hate crulty to any animal and this sounds like a real torture device. Glad to checked it out , and if ya wanta go punch him out, I'll furnish the gas. (ha ha)

Love ya

Farm.Dad said...

Hun i am not as rabid as you on it , or maby more so but less vocal .

To cut to the chase for folks this device works contra instinctual cues for horses . It is by its self cruel to put on a horse since his every instinct will cause pain once it is applied . Now pain/pleasure is valid training animals from human on down ( some of us still spank kids dont we LOL ) you have to keep in mind that it is a REWARD vs punishment system . In this so called tool there is no reward only lessor punishment .. kinda like voting . IMHO a horse cannot understand this and should not be subjected to it . Horses and children need firm direction with love. If you cannot provide that then you have no business having either . There is no " quick fix " to problems with either kids , be they 2 legged or 4 .

mustanger said...

Farmgirl, I've been seeing gimmicks like this for as long as I've been around horses and horse people. Last gadget was what a shoer showed me... he called it a "California nerve halter" and said it tightens up and mashes brass studs into the poll causing pain as the horse pulls back. Supposed to make 'em not pull and break a regular halter. Same idea as this crock of shit you're describing. My point here is this isn't new.

(BTW, speaking of halters, about ten years ago, I came to the conclusion that halters aren't a restraint, but rather they're another line of communication. That's just my own opinion and experience though.)

I recall a Washington State buckaroo type cowboy telling me once that in his opinion you can learn something from anybody. Some people, you learn how NOT to do something. IMO, this is a real good example.

Oh, and the idiot marketing this device... he's not stupid. He's smart enough to know how to play on other folks' ignorance and frustration. Basically, he's just another damn snake oil salesman.

Farmgirl said...


The halter you describe is bound to be more effective, if used as a training device, and not a forever solution. At least on that halter, the cues make sense to the animal.

Don't get me wrong there are some things that an animal has to hurt itself to learn. There's a gelding at the school that every once in a while has to be put on a small twist and allowed to sore up his mouth, otherwise he gets into the habit of running through a bit.

It's not cruel, the rider is not hauling on his head, she is simply not allowing him to run away with her. He just has to sore himself up to get the point. Once he stops trying to run through the bit, he's changed back to a lighter one, and he works well for a while (longer than it takes for his mouth to stop being sore) but every time it takes a little longer for him to go back to it.

The halter you described is kind of the same principle. Doing the wrong thing causes discomfort (how much discomfort, I don't know without seeing the halter) and doing the right thing relieves it. It may not be the kindest way to do things but horses that pull back can be dangerous.

The cruelty inherent in the device that I described in this post is that it is contrary to the horse's mental processes. It makes doing the right thing hard for the horse, and if the horse follows it's natural bent, it hurts the horse worse.

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about this and have come to a conclusion.
A smart girl like you should be able to figure out how to remake the "No buck Trainer" into a "MAN Trainer" for the inventer.
If you remake the head stall to fit the man (be sure to go around the "ears") then run the cable down to "it" then it should work. As long as it satys up - no pain - no problem. But if it starts going down there would be pain and pressure.
Now all you gotta do is figure out how to get it on him. " This would protect older people, children, wimmen & such ".

Love Ya


mustanger said...

Farmgirl, What I forgot to tell you about that nerve halter is it's a pulley system... as the horse pulls back, it keeps tightening down around the horse's head. I see it as another thing that's working against the horse's nature. The way I've observed the fight/flight reactions is that a horse has to fight before they can flight. The more that particular halter tightens down on their head, the more the horse is gonna fight to break out of it for the chance to run. To me, it's kinda like the kid that stuck his head in a cellophane bag and breathed in and then panicked and suffocated.

This isn't like that horse you described that they have to use a twisted snaffle intermittently.

I'll get back to you shortly on how I'd handle halter pulling, but bear in mind, it's mostly my opinion from what I've seen so far.

mustanger said...

Okay, now, this halter-pulling issue as I see it. My first horse pulled the halter the first time... I watched him plant his feet and set his head for it like he had the idea and it worked. So we went and got the broken buckle replaced and a while later, he did it again with a lot more confidence. A few years later, I saw a friend's horse pull the halter while tied to a trailer, but that one just rared back and went over backwards with it. I recall Monty Roberts writing about one horse somebody brought him... he said she'd broken a lot of halters and most every gadget and gimmick they'd tried and they were fixing to sell her for meat. Roberts said he'd worked with her a bit without results and then tied the lead line into an inner tube (semi-truck size) on the snubbing post. The horse couldn't break this one... she pulled and bucked and carried on a while until she finally fell and really couldn't do any more. Roberts said it was a lot like a heroin addict that has to hit bottom before it gets better. When that horse got up, she'd stand tied calmly from then on. I think I'd go this route when the halter pulling starts and possibly save going through a lot of extra trouble. It could be that the horse sees it may have worked once, but really isn't worth the extra trouble after that.

BTW, I mostly use a Double Diamond rope halter now. No buckles to break. Like I've said though, I mostly just use the halter as a line of communication rather than as a restraint.

Oh, another thing about this "anti-bucking" device. You know, the guy said a horse can't buck with his head up. From what you said, he didn't say anything about the horse maybe rearing and going over backwards from the pain. Results have been fatal for the rider.

leroy blackwell said...

if you want the other side of the story of the barnes trainer and if you had rather make an informed decision instead of resorting to mudslinging and name calling then go to or for testimonials from people who actually know what they are talking about go to if you'd like to speak to me personally go to . my name is leroy blackwell and i'm president of the company that is promoting the barnes trainer

Anonymous said...

I've seen this trainer work. When it has been put on a horse that bucks, they usually try to buck one time then don't try again. If they don't try to buck they don't even know it is on. One guy used it every day for about a week. when the horse realized that it wasn't hurting him for a person to be on his back. He took the halter off the horse and trained him conventionly.