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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