For people who are just coming to the site, this is a sample of a lesson that you will experience when you join the Insiders Circle and In-the-Box programs. I am sure you will see, from the comments that my students leave, the kinds of benefits you can enjoy through my programs. If you would like to ask any questions about the courses, please feel free to leave them in the comments section found at the bottom of this post. There are two separate abilities that help you with horses: one is how to train a horse to do something and another is getting a horse to perform what he has been trained to do. Many people are good at one and not so good at the other. If a horse is trained well in the beginning, it is easier to get him to do what he has been trained to do than having to train the horse from the start. Becoming a horse trainer takes years of practice working around horses and getting guidance from others. I find that the greatest skill to have working with horses in regards to performance is keeping a horse at his best once he has been trained. When you work around horses, you soon learn that it’s all about your choices in when to lead and when to allow your horse to lead, and the consequences of those choices. This is true whether you are training a horse or asking him to perform.
Working with a horse at liberty can be difficult because the horse can control the trainer in what he chooses to do. And yet, it appears that training at liberty is quite easy to do, based on the results of the Insider Circle program. We are at a juncture in the Insider Circle course, where people are now beginning to enjoy Liberty Dancing with their horses. When they came to my course, many students had just the basic ability to work with an uncomplicated horse and a knowledge of how to read their horse’s intentions and feelings. These same students have been able to successfully train their horses to dance with them at liberty. They are reporting big changes in the attitude and willingness of their horses, and an increase in overall well being, all of which they attribute to the practice of the Waterhole Rituals
The reason I am calling attention to all these aspects of training is to prepare you as you are going forward to put your focus on how to build upon and maintain the great foundation you have developed with your horses so far. I give you a simple formula to help.
Formula for your daily focus:
Sometimes allowance will buy you resistance and sometimes a willing horse.
I would like the class to share with me a decision you have made that worked for you and your horse where you allowed your horse to do what he wanted to do in the moment, and how that decision increased your horses performance and bond, and an example of another time when you did not allow the behavior, and how that decision helped you gain a better performance and connection.
An example for me was the other day when I was working with a very smart horse here at the ranch. I put a neck rope on him for the first time and he decided to run off. In this instance, I did not stop him—I allowed him this behavior. When he came back, he was fine with working in the neck rope and the line that was attached to it. If I had fought him on this point, he would have become more set on resisting the line. A little later in the session, the same horse wanted to do tricks and get a reward. I made a choice in that instance that he needed to listen to me rather than offer the tricks he wanted to perform. So, I stopped the games until he lost the enthusiasm and became more connected to me. This took some time but when he surrendered to my focus, his performance at liberty was breathtaking. Usually I advise people to go with the enthusiasm of the horse to keep up the energy and focus, but you can allow this too much and in doing so create a horse that has a habit of changing the subject and who thinks he is running the program, and this was what was beginning to happen with him.
As you look at these examples, don’t see them as guidelines to follow but rather as insights or keys to help you in noticing that in the moment, there are right responses to make with a horse that only you can make. How to hone your skill and grow this ability at noticing which allowances bring you a better bond and performance and which ones create resistance and unwillingness, is to make note of your choices and how they are working for you or against you. Remember, what works for you one day won’t necessarily work for you the next. Sometimes allowance will buy you resistance and sometimes a willing horse.
In the comments section, please give an example of how your choices in when to allow and when to not allow brought you a better connection, bond and performance, so others in the class can learn from your experiences.