Saturday, March 23, 2013

Meet n' Greet

Meet n’ Greet

After demos, I am often swarmed by attendees wanting the same special connection they saw me share with horses.  Often, I’m asked ‘how can I develop a better relationship with my horse?’

For starters, I ask people to remember horses’ most natural instincts, those of prey animals.  We look different, smell funny, sound unusual, and just might be mountain lions.  Our equine partners need us to prove we are not predators but that we are their nurturing leaders.    

Horses live what they learn.  If we burst into the stall, reach immediately for their head, rush to throw something on their back, that’s INVASION.  Doing so you have now taught your horse that invasion is okay.   

Whoa, back to kindergarten friends.  Let’s start, as horses do, with a regular INTRODUCTION.  Horses in the pasture, the wild, or the barn generally touch another’s nose when meeting for the first time giving an ‘international handshake’.  I suggest you mimic horses’ social order accordingly.  ASK to say a simple ‘Hello’.  Yes, that simple.  Just offer your closed hand palm down about an inch or two in front of their nose.  WAIT for them to touch your hand.  Patience is necessary! If they don’t, back up, take a breath, and offer the introduction again.  Once touched, GIVE back the reward of a soft stroke.  You have just begun your first conversation in the language they understand. Access granted. This practice should continue anytime you greet a horse, first time, all the time.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Have you even found yourself overwhelmed with frustration trying to back a horse? Pulling with your hands to encourage the movement? The more pressure you add, the more the horse either raises there head high up and plants their feet? Feel like you can pull the bit through their mouth without any flowing movement? Proper groundwork is the answer, not the motion in the saddle first. Helping the horse understand what you are looking for with proper use of balance and their body, to set them up for success when asked. Remember a hollow back and high head can cause injury and resistance where a lowered rounded head and a lifted back gets the job done freely.
When it comes to training your horse, your patience, safety and consistency are your greatest tools. Discovering what works for the horse eliminates resistance. Horses as well as humans have different learning curves and skills. Some catch on quick some need it broken down to understand.” Ask..Wait and Give for Results” is something I teach simply wait for the response of what you are asking. It takes a few seconds to register because the information has to travel a longer distance for response unlike Humans that have instant reaction. Leave the clock at home, undo anticipation of what you WILL achieve today and get rid of the instant gratification of look what I can do. Horses can tell those five seconds before you approach. Try instead, treating each day like a new one and look for the slightest or smallest difference. Yu will be amazed what you discover your partner.
What do you do if your horse constantly jigs on the trail, trying to go faster than you want? Don’t add to the problem by pulling back on your reins, trying to force him to walk. Instead, put his feet to work and get him to pay attention to you and be on the same page. The more you move his feet forwards, backwards, left and right, the more he’ll relax and use movement constructively not irrationally. Making more work and expend unnecessary energy than needed by repeating the area without continuing with strides. Eventually, the horse will realize that walking on a loose rein is much easier than having to hustle his feet.