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Control
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Control

You must be able to control your horse for your own safety and the safety of others. I get so frustrated when I see people that can not control their horses on the ground or under saddle. If you don't control them it is just a matter of time before you or someone else gets hurt. Controlling your horse doesn't need to be harsh. If you take the time to teach your horse correctly it will make you and your horse much safer.

Somebody told me "A horse needs direction not correction. The handler/rider should know the difference." Take this to heart for your horse's sake and your own. Direction means to teach your horse. If you take the time to teach there will be very little need for correction. When I am "teaching" people about horses I tell them to "1) Ask 2) Encourage 3) Insist". This means that your horse does what you ask every time. Don't let your horse decide if they are going to do what you ask.

A disrespectful horse can be a dangerous horse. Teach your horse to respect your space. Your horse should not enter your personal space unless they are invited. If they are not invited they should be about an arm's length away. You should be able to easily back them away from you if they get too close. If they don't back away when asked, teach them to back away when asked. You should not have to move away from your horse, they should move away from you. When a horse gets in your space and you move away from them you have allowed them to be dominant (to be the herd leader). You need to be the dominant one. You have to be in charge.

Take time to teach your horse good ground manners. Every horse should be able to stand quietly when they are tied or in hand. Your horse should not be walking over the top of you. Give your horse a little nudge with your elbow if they are walking too close to you. If necessary carry a riding crop or a lunge whip with you when you walk your horse. If they are getting ahead of you or crowding you, a little tap on their shoulder will get them to move away. A horse stepping on you will hurt (speaking from experience) so make sure the horse is behaving and respecting your space.

When you ask your horse to do something make sure they do it. When you ask and don't follow through with the request you are allowing your horse to be disrespectful. If you allow your horse to say "no" or "I don't want to" this response will follow you into a dangerous situation. When you ask your horse to stop, teach them to do it immediately not 10 steps later, not even 2 steps later. If you are lunging your horse and you ask for a speed increase or decrease make sure you get it, teach them to do it. If you can't control your horse on the ground you won't be able to control them under saddle.

Horses should also be under your control when you are in the saddle. You have to be able to stop your horse and you have to be able to turn them. If you get into trouble and you can't control your horse you are in danger and so is everyone around you. Again, take time to teach your horse to respect you in the saddle just the way you did on the ground. There is nothing worse than being on a trail and coming up on other riders that can not control their horses. I have seen an out of control horse run over people on the ground; I blame the rider not the horse. It is the rider's responsibility to teach and control their horse.

Don't let your horse control you or the situation, a horse in control is going to make bad decisions.

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  1. Chestnut Mare
    Chestnut Mare
    Voted. Very good advice here, I am sure a lot of riders need it! You might be interested in my latest blog, A Horse of a Different Colour? Please check it out and vote if you like it.:-)
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  2. Rene Wright
    Rene Wright
    Totally agree with you. Riders/handlers should always be striving for control & respect. Voted. Please check out my blogs: Spring Cleaning & Hay! It's what's for dinner. Vote & comment if you like them. Thanks!
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  3. sweedly
    sweedly
    All to often people get horses but never receive any proper training on how to be a good rider. I was not the best at it, but with my uncles and friends instructions and help I was able to feel in control most of the time. Riding is like learning to write, it takes lots of practice. Voted.
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  4. jst4horses
    Good advice. This is why a person should take time to go to clinics and learn how to manage a horse. Once you have the partner, or join up, the horse can be asked. It is such a blessing. The other day a young trainer was learning Native Natural Horsemanship. She was completely shocked when the 18 month old colt she was working with joined up, and after he had been allowed to run in the round corral, just walked right up and got his halter on, no chasing, nothing when she came to get him. AND never completely trust it. I have seen one of the most amazingly trained horses at a clinic, have a fit over a tarp. Who knows why, just got up on the wrong side of the stable. The trainer pointed out, it is OUR responsibility, not the horse's to make sure we can then control something that has gone bad.
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  5. jst4horses
    Good advice. This is why a person should take time to go to clinics and learn how to manage a horse. Once you have the partner, or join up, the horse can be asked. It is such a blessing. The other day a young trainer was learning Native Natural Horsemanship. She was completely shocked when the 18 month old colt she was working with joined up, and after he had been allowed to run in the round corral, just walked right up and got his halter on, no chasing, nothing when she came to get him. AND never completely trust it. I have seen one of the most amazingly trained horses at a clinic, have a fit over a tarp. Who knows why, just got up on the wrong side of the stable. The trainer pointed out, it is OUR responsibility, not the horse's to make sure we can then control something that has gone bad.
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  6. PonyGirl
    PonyGirl
    I enjoyed your post very much. I think that besides being well written, it is a very timely piece. It seems to me that in the old days there were far too many people who skipped, the "ask" and the "encourage" stages and went straight to the "insist". This created a lot of unnecessary problems, especially with timid or sensitive horses. But I think today, many people are all for the "ask" and "encourage", but shy away from the "insist" because they think it's mean or cruel. They don't understand that the "insist" is about dominance and not aggression. I thought your post explained the nature of the "insist" and the need for it very well.
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    1. jst4horses
      Thank you. My early training was Native American, both trainers were professional and in varied sports, including harness, TB racing, Reining, and three day eventing. My instructor was the only Native American to get gold medals in this competition. When I was disabled and went into horse training more professionally I got my professional certifications with Parelli. It was the old days, living in a tent out in a field with my dog for days, even weeks and having teachers such as THE Bureau of Land Management Mustanger, Dr. Robert Miller DVM for foal imprinting, Karen, and Pat. One of my greatest teachers was their son Caitin. I had never expected to ride, let alone train again when I attended a clinic with a friend. I had to sit on the cement because I had so little balance I would fall off a bench! It was from a high fever staph infection. I had already spent eight years learning to walk and talk again as poorly as I was. Caitin did a demonstration. He might have been ten, or younger. It gave me a thought, a hope, and I outlived a death sentence given me by the doctors and even Social Security when I was appraised for disability. Insist. We call it promise. I promise you can do this. EVEN if it takes six months. And with a few horses, it has. One horse brought to us to train had his front leg broken by the tie his legs up, throw him on the ground guys. He had been manhandled enough to be a monster. We took the time it took, and now he is a great horse. He was just sold from a family with children to a breeder, and we are hoping this time around, if they sell him again, they will give us first option. We loved that horse, but insist we did, and finally, there he was, riding safely on streets, trails, and had learned "that's not your mare" since his owner refused to geld him. He was safely in parades and happy when I last saw him. I hope his life stays that way, and that one day, we get him back.
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      1. PonyGirl
        PonyGirl
        Wow, what an incredible story. I'm going to be 59 in a few months. My grandparents introduced me to horses when I was 2. They both grew up with horses and mules as a way of life. When they were young, there weren't too many automobiles around our part of the country. I rode and showed my horse and other people's horses while I was growing up. I went to a riding school in Tenn. after graduating high school, since I knew I wanted to make my living with the horses and there were no real horse job opportunities in my area. After school, I drifted around the country working in various horse jobs, mostly western, but some English, and some gaited. I worked on the trotting track for awhile, I finally ended up on the TB racetrack, grooming, galloping, and finally ponying horses. Somehow, although I didn't plan on it, I've ended up ponying for the last 28 years (with a few years off, being a trail guide on a marine base in California). I learned way before any of the big name trainers and clinics came along, but I was able to find some pretty good mentors along the way. And of course, if we pay attention, the horses will teach us more than any person can. The track and ponying suited me very well, because I still got to travel around, and I got to see and work with thousands and thousands of horses (more than any other discipline I might have followed) plus I got to work with my own pony horses for years and got to see just how great a horse could be, given enough time. I've really been blessed to have the opportunities that I've had (and still have). It takes about 5 years to finish a good pony. And when I say "finish", I don't mean he stops getting better, I just mean I don't have to help him get better any more. At that point, he does all his improving on his own. Well, I've enjoyed "meeting" you here and I look forward to reading more of your posts. I just stumbled onto this site the other day, so I haven't written anything yet. So far I'm just enjoying reading what everyone else has written. And I definitely enjoy reading your posts.
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