The most important aspect to training a horse is found in the approach. This means how we manage our horse in the process of his training.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Did your horse sign up for his daily training? This means does he respond easily and make an effort to follow your direction.
- Does he stay relaxed and respond easily?
- Does he make you look good while training him and do you make him look good?
- Does his training move along easily?
- Are the lessons met without resistance or drama?
- Is his body supple and flexible and did you not make his muscles ridged from the influence of your training?
- Is he excited about his schooling in a positive way?
So, what is the most important step in gaining a willing horse each day in the training process?
- It is the first step we take, each day that we train. It is created in the first 10 or 15 minutes of your horses’ training.
We must find a way back to the connection with a horse when it was at its best, whatever that best was. In this connection we will find the horse focused, willing and interested in learning.
It had been a while since I had worked Fire Light. The next time I went to work him he met me with his head over the fence. He was happy to see me and he wanted me to feed him a leaf. I gave him one. I then stepped into his paddock to put on his halter. I was alert to his energy and his feelings toward me. When I put on his halter, he showed no resistance. I felt his energy. It was good, but mine was a bit nervous. Fire Light can be a very challenging horse from the stand point that he frightens easily and he is dominant, meaning that he could easily want to protect himself from me and this could be expressed by a startle, an impatience or not listening to me when I go to lead him to the training arena.
How I handled this was to wait until I felt that he would not show this side to me. This pause made the difference. We got back to the zone where we felt safe in each others' company. I know if I do not feel safe there has to be something in him that he doesn’t feel safe either, and I always listen to not only my horses’ feelings but mine as well.
I took Fire Light to the training arena. I turned him loose and waited until I felt he was willing to take my lead. I could feel that what he was willing to do was work with me on three speeds of gate in walk and trot. I still thought that we needed to do some Companion Walking first just to help our relationship. He was not ready for this, so I waited, and then a change happened and he was willing to give companion walking a try. Then I moved onto three speeds of gait, that was his choice.
The day went like butter, like it always does, but with him I must take a lot of time to consider just where our relationship is in the process of his training. If I did not do this, his training would be filled with resistance, frustration and hostility.
Training programs have three phases in how to connect with a horse. There is kindergarten and then grade school and then high school. Each developing stage has a different approach. Kindergarten must be mostly on the horses’ terms. Then in grade school the horse is more willing to be directed and willing to work closely with you. In high school you have a deeply committed horse. Fire Light is in kindergarten moving into grade school.
Daily training, no matter whether your horse is in the beginning or later stages of training, also has three stages that must be considered. The first stage is to find out where your horse is and then to work your way back to a deep commitment and connection. You then must find what you could work on that he would move into easily. The second stage is to pick the training that will most suit your horse’s advancement in the most natural way. And the last stage is to work on what you wanted to bring to your horse that day, in the first place. Finish the day with what brings about the best team work practice.
Good horse training is mostly found in the management and your approach. All methods of horse training can be approached in this manner. My last word is to consider your horse and keep him honest and willing to follow your lead. Keep him so that the training is what floats his boat, and moves him forward. What happens out of that is where you will find the harmony and unity you are looking for.
Have a great weekend! Be on the lookout for new horse and human sightings and may the horse be with you.
Here is a fun cat video for you to enjoy: