Planning for the New Year

IMG_0568Happy New Year to everyone! Is one of your new year resolutions to :

Improve Your Horsemanship? Improve your riding experiences? Get more out of your horse?  Fix a Horsemanship Problem? Learn something new?

Well, maybe I can help with a clinic for you and a few friends or Private lessons at your farm. I am scheduling clinics and lessons for 2016. Contact me and we can format a class to fit your goals.

If we consider horsemanship as a partnership between human and horse, then both parties have responsibility. If we have established the human as the leader, then what is the horse’s responsibility? The horse’s role is then to follow the leader. The horse also has a vested interest because he is the one that is expending the energy! The horse needs to be part of the training process. They are capable of many things athletically, but you must include them in the mental part of things as well. The horse must be rewarded for any success. This reward is comfort and safety. This principle results in the horse willing to keep trying and ultimately, searching for that particular movement (or lack of movement, in the case of stop) of feet and legs that results in release of pressure (stimuli).
Here is how we include the horse in the training process:
1. Listen to him. The horse will tell you what he’s thinking. He can communicate confusion, fear, understanding, excitement, or level of effort through his body language.

2. Build a basis for communication. Ray Hunt always said, “Reward the smallest change and the slightest try.”

3. Always be consistent in your cues. Start from the ground and then progress to the saddle with lateral and vertical flexion, control of the feet, and control the movement of the body. This will build a supple, willing horse, and give consistency to communication.

4. Expect and accept failure. Each cue is not going to be understood and executed. Therefore, failure becomes a “teachable moment” in which we can re-evaluate our communication. It is also an opportunity to back up and make sure the fundamental training steps have been learned.

5. Build a foundation for success. Everything we ask a horse to do, he already knows how to do. We are just asking him to do them exactly when we want him to do it. All a horse can do is move forward, backward, sideways, left, right and stop. Everything we ask is a combination of these maneuvers or change in speed. Start slow and build momentum. Allow the horse to buy into our system.

6. Wait on the horse. Sometimes the horse knows what we are asking him to do, but he is not confident of himself or natural instincts say there is potential danger. If we wait, let the horse try, and have success, then that builds confidence in the horse. Success will build success and give the horse confidence to try new challenges. He will also learn to trust you more in the process.

7. Challenge you and your horse. How do you know your horse is ready for a new challenge? Ask for it, and see what happens. Make sure your insecurities are not hindering your horse’s educational progress. Progress cannot be measured by always executing the past lessons. Add challenges to your routine that causes the horse to think. Horses become bored from monotonous routines.
Having clear communication and a horse that wants to work with you can only improve your performances. To gain and maintain top performances you need to regularly review your communication and the quality of your partnership by allowing the horse to think and participate in the process. Mistakes will be made, but this creates an opportunity to evaluate the process.

If you are going to teach a horse something and have a good relationship, you don’t make him learn it – you let him learn it.  –  Ray Hunt