Having worked with rescues and foals I don't change what I was taught by my father. I will tell you right now I have never hit any horse I worked with. But I am no pushover. I use a lunge whip, bits, and spurs but I never use them directly on the horse. According to what I've learned, here are what I believe to be the five key elements of a forever friendship and partnership.
Trust: Why? If you don't trust your mount, how can you expect them to perform everything you ask to the best of their knowledge? Now there are trainers who say trust is your confidence in your skills but that isn't the best form. I have worked with people who have been thrown and their confidence was shattered as well as my own confidence often gets shabby but they remount the same horse after a bit of ground work to rebuild the trust. I know tons of people who have no arena to free-lunge their horse but use the pasture. Personally I prefer the free-lunge. I worked 3 horses in a 10 acre pasture and all 3 became amazing show horses. One thing about free-lunging is holding your ground. Sometimes you have a horse who charges you and other horses in their yard. Do not move till the last possible minute. No I am not telling you to play chicken with your horse. But what I am telling you is to hold a lunge whip (or stick that makes noise) and hit the ground in front of you the minute the horse starts at you. Most of the time the horses will stop but other times they go around but by standing there till last minute is showing them you are ALPHA. One fun way you can build trust is by dancing with your horse. Weird? I know it sounds it but try it. On the ground, turn your horse one way by lead then the other, move forward and back. Object is to keep his butt away from you.
Respect: If you don't respect the horse, don't demand it. My favorite quote of all time is one my father taught me: "Horses cannot be tamed but they lend us their freedom for a short period of time." There are many techniques that work for this. My personal one is free-lunge. Speaking the command and demanding it done works after a while. A fun way is to teach a side-pass. Lead your horse over a long board or log (whatever you have) so only their front feet were passed it and press into their shoulder. Leave the pressure there till the front legs cross.
Understanding: Why? You can train your horse to a bomb-proof level but if they are hurting or don't feel good, they will have a bad day. A great way to avoid this is a pre-lesson rub down. Not a bath. Use the palm of your hand and rub all over the horse. If the horse reacts find out why. Is it pain or just uncomfortable there?
Love: If you have the horse, you already are there. But remember that the love is two ways. I tell everyone to show me how they work with their horse. I can tell you just by watching if you chose the horse or if the horse "chose" you. It can make a world of difference.
Time: Of course. You get a horse spend the time with them. Don't just go out ride and leave. No. Sometimes just go out and play with your horse. Lead them around their pasture talking to them. Maybe go out and bath them (if your horse likes bathing that is). If you do ride, take the time to cool them down and give them a reward afterwards. Simple things can help.
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