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Give and Take
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Give and Take

When it comes to horse training I might have a slightly different view than most others I work with or have seen train horses. I'm young, still in high school, and openly admit that I don't know everything that there is to know, but I don't think that is as important as big horse trainers make it. I think the real important thing is being able to have a bond with the horse you are working with and to be able to have a good time with the horse while training and working with it. I don't think that training a horse should be serious all of the time, I think in addition to teaching the horse how to work, you need to teach the horse how to play, too. With the horses I work with, as soon as they get something right, they get an immense amount of reward through my voice and petting, and when they do it twice, they get to take a chill pill. I don't think drilling it into their brains helps; that only makes them not want to do it. If you are able to associate good training ethic with happy things, without making them not want to work at all, then eventually they will get it. For example, I am retraining a 20 year old horse at my barn to bend and leg yield. I started by doing a lot of stuff that probably made her uncomfortable and clearly made me uncomfortable. She was probably really pissed with me, but I did all this stuff for four days in a row. Every time she got it right and worked hard enough she got to come off the small circle and walk around on her own time for a little bit before going back to work. And she wasn't allowed to canter until she could get it done correctly for five whole minutes. Finally, this past Friday I went back to a regular workout schedule with her and worked her the way I used to, using the whole ring, but throwing in 20 meter circles everywhere I could. I asked her to bend through the corners and while on the circles and at first she didn't want to at all. But when we went back to small circles and immediately back to regular work, she got it and willingly wrapped herself around my leg and listened to my hands telling her what to do. She is known as a brat at my barn, but I couldn't believe the difference in her after a little simple give and take happened. I had to make her trust me and I took away some comfort, but once she listened to what I wanted, I gave her what she wanted. Training isn't something that is supposed to teach the horse that it is our way or the highway. Sometimes the horse is right and the horse needs a break. More than once a week I make sure I just spend time telling them they are awesome and letting them run around like crazies. They're horses, they need to be horses. 

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Leave a Comment

  1. Izzy Wilder
    Izzy Wilder
    Voted. I've seen your work with the horses. You're like a young horse whisperer kinda. You work MAGIC with the ponies. :)
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  2. Chestnut Mare
    Chestnut Mare
    Voted. Great blog. Yes, it sounds like you do have a very deep understanding of horses! You might be interested in my latest blog, A Famous Horse's Tale, please check it out and vote if you like it! :-)
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  3. naturegirl
    You know what? As a teenager, you figured out the most basic thing people need to understand when dealing with animals: they just want to be loved, like us, and want to be animals. Thumbs up and voted ofr you! When you have the chance, stop by my new article, So Hungry I Could Eat a Horse..., and vote if you like it!
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  4. jst4horses
    I still will vote with join up and partnering. It should take a short period, maybe twenty minutes, although some people never get it. Some take months to figure it out. Others get it, and get the respect first try, notably one special ed (human) teacher and one young ex-Marine. The horses just get the join up with them. We had one spoiled ex racehorse that three of us worked with, one after the other, the horse just was going to outlast us. Then the ex-Marine came in for his next turn, and that pesty horse joined right up. It has made a great difference in his behavior. He had been beaten and forced into dressage prior, but looked terrible, he pouted, he slacked. Now he looks good under saddle because he no longer is fighting the riders, and waiting for an opening to harm them.
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  5. jst4horses
    One day at a clinic Buck said the greatest thing: He said you do not have to wait for your legs to figure it out and come along with what you are doing, you should work to make sure you do not have to make an excuse for your horse's legs either. I loved it. I am sorry, I will be right there, as soon as I can convince my horses legs to come along down the trail. LOL.
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  6. PonyGirl
    PonyGirl
    I enjoyed your blog and voted for you. I'm on the other end of the spectrum from you. I'm a few months away from my 59th birthday, and have worked with horses professionally my whole life. I agree that being young is not a disadvantage when working with horses. Each person has to find his own style when relating to horses, and actually find a slightly different style with each different horse. I have found in my own dealings with horses, that making things as enjoyable as possible for the horse is the way to go. When starting with a new horse, I only ask small things I know they can do, and gradually ask a little more. Once they get in a habit of saying "yes" to me, things become very easy as long as I don't ask more than they can give. But it sounds like you've got that method down pat. One thing I would mention about the older mare that you might take into consideration; What you're asking her to do, is not only asking for her mental compliance (which you obviously understand very well), but you are also asking her to use her body and her muscles in a way not familiar to her. It is very likely that she will become body sore at some point as a result of this new exercise. If you think about what you're asking her physically as well as mentally, and consider how much recovery time she may need (an older horse will need more recovery time than a young one), I believe you will be even more successful in getting her to do what you're asking. This last bit is just my thoughts on the matter- I realize that you may have taken her physical state into consideration and just not written about it. At any case, it sounds like you're doing a great job, and I will look forward to reading more of your posts.
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