A Horse, of Course
with Don Blazer
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Copyright © 2011
The Thinking Horse Trainer
There must be a million horse training tips, tricks and techniques, but one transcends all others.
I stated writing about horses many years ago. And because I was writing for major horse magazines at the time, I got to interview, be taught by and ride with some of the very best trainers. That good fortune continues today. Some of the very best continue to tell me what works, what doesn't and why.
The best part, of course, is that I get to apply all those "training tips" and see for myself if the words of wisdom ring true.
A horse trainer reaches greatness when he or she can communicate with a horse to apply the horse's skills and talents to purpose…..that is complete a pre-describe pattern or task with willingness and a desire to please the rider. That is not easy to do!
But all of those who can do it can do it because they embrace this concept: "horse training is about thinking and little else."
Horse training doesn't take great physical skills. In fact, the more physical skills are imposed, the lower the quality of training. You cannot force learning.
What great horse training requires first and foremost is thought. The trainer/rider must think about the horse in its entirety, understanding that the horse is an instinct responder, a herd member, dependent on his captor.
Thinking about the hundreds of aspects involved in the training of a horse, the superior trainer recognizes that "every encounter with a horse is a training session."
As a dependent herd member who responds to his instincts, the horse seeks consistency.
You cannot treat him one way today because he is your "pal" and another way tomorrow because he is your "show horse." He must be treated in the same manner every day.
The trainer's personality and actions will be directly reflected in the behavior of the horse.
Being consistent in your actions will establish a "comfort zone" for the horse. The horse learns best within his comfort zone, so training must introduce anything outside the comfort zone in gradual steps.
Be prepared. Trainers who think about their horses are not foolishly causal or haphazard. They know that being a flight or fight animal with poor eye sight and driven by instincts, horses can injury or be injured within seconds. Handle horses with caution, with good equipment used correctly, with consistency and with the understanding that if a horse can get into trouble, sooner or later he will.
Horse training takes time.
When you are training a horse, you are teaching a new language. (Unless you are exceptional, you would not expect to learn a foreign language in a matter weeks. It takes most of us months and even years to become fluent in a language. Why expect anything different from your horse?)
Once the horse learns the language, he can be expected to sometimes respond as desired.
And sometimes he won't. It takes time to communicate clearly.
How much time does it take to train a horse? It takes as long as it takes!
Horses don't bond as "pals" or "friends". They follow their leader.
When a horse "nickers" as you approach, he does so because he thinks you are going to give him a treat, or feed him. (If you don't believe it, feed him, walk away and then re-appear. He won't nicker because he already has what he wants. He doesn't need you right now.)
Being herd animals, horses want a leader. They want to trust, believe in and follow a leader.
Good trainers become the leader by being consistent, patient and thinking.
If you want my top 20 training tips, visit www.horsecoursesonline.com and click on "free reports" in the left hand menu.