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Horse Training

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Training your Horse

The greatest gift you can give your horse is your time and your mind. 

I am sure you have heard people say, "I took my horse to training for 90 days and I still can't do anything with my horse."

Why does this happen?

Horses are looking for connection. They are herd animals. When they are interacting with you or a trainer they are looking to connect.

 

If you are not involved in the training aspect the horse is bonding with the trainer and not you.

 

They are not robots they are relational creatures, and they need you to be in that relationship. How does that look for you and your horse?

There is not cookie cutter answer. Give me a call and lets see  how I can help this relationship flourish. 

Vet Petting a Horse

Excellent article on Why I want to teach you to train your horse.

Good Horsemanship - Ross Jacobs

  · THE BETRAYAL OF GOLDIE

"He is worse today than he has been in a long time," she said. "I don't know what I'm doing wrong."

The fact was that the lady had not been doing anything she hadn't done a million times before. That was why she couldn't understand why her horse had so much resistance in him today. I knew why he was like he was, but I couldn't tell her. It was my fault. As I watched her work with her horse on the transitions, on her forwardness, on her bend in the circles, on pushing the beach ball around with the horse's nose, on backing up, on standing on a pedestal, etc., I knew I had betrayed her horse. I felt bad because I knew the horse felt bad inside and it was my fault.

The lady came to a five-day clinic I held some years back. She joined a group of six ranging in years from nineteen to seventy-plus. There were people ranging from thirty years of experience to just getting started.

The lady in this story had travelled several hours with her horse to come to this clinic because as much as she loved her cremello fellow, it was getting close to being his last chance. She had told me that Goldie was always looking elsewhere when she rode him and he could be quite spooky on the trail. But the thing that worried her most was that he would have a bucking storm every two or three rides on the trail. He never did it in the arena, but it was a semi-regular occurrence on trail rides. She figured that at her age riding bucking horses was getting to be tiresome and dangerous to her brittle bones.

During the early part of the week, I had the lady work Goldie in the round yard at liberty. It was pretty clear from the start that Goldie had ideas about what should be happening and he was reluctant to give up those ideas when the owner suggested an alternative idea.

I tried to explain to Goldie's owner that the problems she was having with her horse stemmed from Goldie's inability to trust her to present him with different ideas to his own that would not threaten his safety. A lot of the time that she asked Goldie to make a change, Goldie saw it as a threat to his survival. This would lead to Goldie doing whatever he felt he needed to do to feel safe again. He was doing nothing wrong. He was just doing what nature programmed him to do – be safe and survive.

The secret to helping her and Goldie to get along better was to teach the lady how to present herself to Goldie in a way that Goldie felt ok about giving up his ideas and going along with her ideas. He needed to learn to trust her leadership. For three days we worked on softening Goldie's attitude towards his owner. By the third day, there was a noticeable improvement in the horse and the owner. They were getting along much better and Goldie was trying very hard to trust this newly reformed owner.

On Thursday morning, with only two days left of the clinic, I asked each student what they wanted to work on for the day. Goldie's owner was the first to pipe up. She said that she could see that Goldie was making progress, but felt there were still some hurdles in their relationship that didn't make her trust Goldie enough to ride her when they got home. She asked if I would work with him today and help iron out some of those remaining sticky spots. I thought about it for a few seconds and then agreed. I figured that I could probably make enough difference that she would see that Goldie was able to be a really good horse and then maybe she would learn to trust him.

I worked with Goldie as I had been trying to teach the lady to work with him. Initially, Goldie was pretty stuck again with his ideas about things. But within 20 minutes or so he started to respond well. Within an hour Goldie was as soft as melted butter. His transitions were smooth, his halts were coming from my seat alone. He walked up the see-saw and down the other side and didn't even flutter when it tilted on him. He walked up the stairs and backed over my blue tarpaulin. His lateral work was soft and he would go from a walk to a gallop and back again in just a few strides and be quiet and calm about it all. The owner was duly impressed and had a big smile on her face. I was so pleased to see both the horse and owner happy that I knew I had done the right thing in riding the horse for her. Goldie had worked hard enough that day and was put away while I turned my attention to the other students.

That night I was out walking around the paddocks with a cup of tea in my hand visiting my horses and having a quiet chat with them. It was something I was prone to doing most evenings and I was lost in thought when I heard somebody coming up behind me. I turned and saw it was Farrah, one of the students from the clinic. Farrah was a very experienced horsewoman and had been coming to clinics for the last 3 years. We knew each other fairly well and I respected her abilities with horses. She was a good student and eager to learn. We chatted for a while about nothing in particular, but it was obvious that there was something on her mind. Eventually, there was an awkward silence that followed the idle chat. Farrah broke the void when she said, "Ross, can I ask you something about Goldie?"

"Sure," was my response.

"Why did you work Goldie today instead of getting the owner to work her?"

"Well, she asked me to and besides I thought it might get the breakthrough she has been desperately seeking with Goldie."

Farrah thought for a minute and there seemed to be nervousness in her voice. "I was impressed with the changes you got in Goldie and I could see he felt a lot better inside after you had worked him. But I can't help but wonder if you did him any favours."

"What do you mean," I asked.

"Don't get me wrong, but I felt that what you did today did nothing to help Goldie's owner be better with Goldie. All you did was show her what was possible, but she doesn't have what you have to make it happen. But what worries me even more is that now Goldie knows how good he can feel inside with somebody he can trust. He knows there is a way for him to enjoy being around people, yet tomorrow you hand him back to somebody who is not going to be able to give him that same feeling. When a blind man is allowed to see for just a minute before you take his sight away again, are you doing him a favour or are you betraying him?"

I didn't know the answer to Farrah’s question. She made a good point. One that I hadn't considered very much. But her words echoed in my mind the next day when the owner rode up to me and said, "He is worse today than he has been in a long time. I don't know what I'm doing wrong." Maybe Farrah was right. Was Goldie worse today because I had betrayed him? I had shown him a glimpse of how good it could feel to work with a human and then taken that good feeling away. Was that fair? Did I do the wrong thing?

It was from that time that I realized it was far more important to make changes in the riders than to make changes in the horses. It's hard to do. Horses are much more pliable and open-minded than people. But if I was to keep the promise I made to myself to do my best to avoid betraying a horse again, then I had to do my best to help owners see what was going on inside their horses. I don't want to betray another horse, ever.

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