The most successful people that I have known, regardless of chosen profession, are those that never accepts “status quo.” They never get complacent with current success, but are always searching for a better way. I think that horsemanship is the same way. Nothing stays the same, it is constantly changing. If no effort is made to improve, usually the result is a decrease in performance. I have observed this in myself! Every time I get to a point in my horsemanship; that I am not driving myself to learn more or start trying to get by with less effort – my horsemanship deteriorates. The ultimate loser is not me, but the horse I am working with at the time. I become a hindrance to his potential.
This theme will be the basis for my next Horsemanship Clinic at Diamond TR Ranch on March 28- starting at 9:00 a.m. To register you may contact the Ranch at diamondtr.com. Contact me as well with your questions. This clinic is for riders that want to advance the confidence in themselves and take their horses to a higher training level – regardless of riding discipline.
I would like to share with you a few fundamental philosophies to help you think about your horsemanship from a broad perspective:
1. Horses are individuals, what works with one may not work on the next; we have to be flexible in our approach. Many people want a ten step approach to horse training and after number 10, instant success. It doesn’t work that way. If you get to an impasse, back up to something you and your horse is comfortable with. Then try to progress again.
2. We only teach horses to do the things it already knows how to do. We only teach them to do it when we want them to. My five basic maneuvers of horsemanship are 1) forward motion, 2) turn right, 3) turn left, 4) stop, and 5) back up. These are things every horse already can do. However, can they do them on your command, without resistance, at various speeds?
3. There is a point where the horse has learned all he can learn in that session, find a place where both you and the horse have been successful, and stop.
4. Horses do not carry a watch or an appointment book, therefore do not have the sense of time we do. Do not put your training or riding time on a schedule. Bad habits can form without you being aware. One example is barn sour horses.
5. When you get on a horse, they read your mind, your emotion, and your body. They know whether you are comfortable or uncomfortable, how much you have ridden and who is going to be in charge of the ride that day.
6. Create a respectful relationship between you and the horse rather than having a relationship where you always dominate and the horse always submits. If the horse respects you as being higher in the pecking order, he will try if your message is communicated clearly.
7. The horse is always right. If the horse has had the proper foundation to execute a maneuver or accept something new and refuses the cue, it means he does not understand. Horses do not hide their emotions. They are constantly giving us signals with their body – relaxed and willing, tense and unsure, mad and irritated. Do not blame the horse for your failure to communicate.
8. If you want the horse to improve, you must challenge him past his comfort zone.
9. If you want to improve your horsemanship, you must challenge yourself past your comfort zone.
10. Create a library of knowledge on horse training. To be successful, one must have a variety of knowledge tools. (See Rule 1) The more knowledge of the horse, understanding the use of aids, and techniques to communicate with the horse you have available, the greater the chance to find a method that an individual horse will understand.