Horses. So many memories, emotions, and experiences can leap to mind with just that single word. But are all of them pleasant?
Do memories of galloping bareback through late summer pasture in the dusty haze of evening leap to mind? What about that show you'll never forget, when every time you entered the ring your horse seemed to come alive and perform flawlessly for the judges? Or do the days of non-stop sass under saddle capture your thoughts instead? The days where the your horse rushes the gate from the pasture, steps on your foot during grooming, pushes against your cues under saddle, and seems to do everything but what you asked him to do?
Everyone has had them. But on days like that, was it only the horse being uncooperative? Is it really always the rider's fault for not doing something perfectly? Or can both parties be held responsible for this failure of communication?
Is there a cause, a reason for these good or bad days? And is there something we are doing that can make them less frequent -or more?
I believe this something is the training methods (or lack thereof) that we incorporate into the lives of our horses. And it is these methods that I would like to take a look at in following posts –along with the good days, the bad, and the end result.
Specifically, I would like to take a good look at the differences and many similarities between methods that have been labeled natural and conventional. These two seemingly opposed styles can be very controversial between the riders who swear by them. But are they really that different? That and many other questions that have been asked I will try to answer, based not only off my own experiences, but that of those I ride with and have learned from.
Different riders have used different methods and achieved different desired (or undesired!) results with their horse. Many conflicting opinions get based off these experiences, so I will state now that any one training style is not going to be the perfect method, nor will it achieve the exact same results with each individual animal. Horses have as varied personalities as their riders, and that is something every horseman will need to keep in mind when considering a particular method.
The results and methods I will talk about in following posts, as I hope to show, will give you an idea of just how differently the horses I worked with reacted to the same style of training -and how my relationships with them changed because of that. Also, I want to give you a glimpse of how my choices during and through training brought about more good days than bad -or, more bad than good! I hope my story will not only encourage other riders to take the plunge of discovery as well, but also allow them to learn from the many mistakes I made along the way.
Questions or comments? I'd love to hear from you! What training method(s) do you use, and why? How has it affected your relationship between you and your horse –the good and bad?
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