Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
Click on Logo (Original artwork by Lanie Frick for Messick Quarter Horses. Not permitted to be copied)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Why are Horses Abused in the Name of Training

I wonder why, but not for very long, why horses are abused in the name of training. I know why some horses get abused while they are in training. Let’s take in consideration:

the trainer's age - young or old vs patience and no-patience, explained in a little bit

the trainer's experience - an older person can have very little experience

the trainer's education - self taught, which is fine, but is he/she educated on knowing WHY horses do what they do

the horse's age - young horses don't know much about riding

the pressure to get x amount done in x amount of time - self explained. To push harder to get more done, and this usually back fires.

And what is going on in the trainer's life? Are they distracted? Have they learned patience?

I find that I need to have this question answered - do they enjoy working with horses to make the horse the best that the horse can be, wherever that horse is at in his training?

I know I can yes to that about myself. I needed to learn more patience. I feel that, in the last 4 years of a training business reprieve, I have learned to relax, learn more patience, take some time, and enjoy training again. I always tried to give the horse what he/she needed, but still pushed for that result to come faster, for the benefit of showing the owner that the horse is learning/trained/doing more than when they first came. Now, like many of us who have been in training for some time, I don't move as fast. I know that it's just fine to slow down, without feeling rushed to get the results NOW.

Patience come with age, but not always. I'm sure there is that naturally patient person. I wasn't, as I had kids showing, horses in for 30 days who needed to go home to ride better, etc. I had to pray for patience, and I will continue to do so until I die. I will give the horse what they need, when they need it. Period.

Why train if you don't love horses? Why train if you don’t enjoy being around horses? Why train if you are going to hurt horses?

I can honestly say that I can’t wait to get back to training more horses. I have enjoyed my summer of riding just a few training horses. I have enjoyed having the time to ride 3 of my horses, 2 of which are new for me. I got Dixie in early May, and in late June, I got Savannah. The 3rd horse, Shaggy, has been ridden off and one for the last 4 years, and now he is one of my main Centered Riding horse. So I feel like I’ve been in training mode with my own horses. And I am having a great time training/riding them.

Why not? I have the whole day to do what I want to accomplish. I have a few lessons here and there throughout the week. I just want to be done with working horses before the heat of the day. I start my day early. If I don’t get done with what I thought I needed to get done with the horses, I work on that the next day.

One major item that I have realized this summer is that I have the “luxury” of taking my time with my horses. Shaggy doesn’t lope well, so I have kept him at the trot longer to have him more solid at the trot. Now he is moving beautifully, in what I feel is a very short time. I have set him up to move straight, give to the bit, do leg yields, stop and back. We serpentine with collection, we can hold our big body straight, and we trot out with ears perked. I know he is having as good of time as I am. The days I feel that everything is coming together, we work on the lope. I had to get him to lope off, then I had to get him to slow down, now we are working on him not dropping his right shoulder. Today, I only loped him 2 or 3 times on 1 long wall of the arena. By the 3rd time, he stayed up and stayed straight, and he didn't lean. I stopped there. He did it right and I felt wonderful about it. I gave him the rest of the day to think about it. I did a roll back and walked off on a loose rein. One thing that has impressed me about Shaggy is that he never gets upset! He may want to try to be bad, but then he does what he is suppose to do, and he walks off relaxed.

Dixie is a joy to ride. I just told Tom last night that each time I ride her, I like her more and more. She has a very fast canter (forgot the lope right now), so once again, I am keeping a horse at the trot longer. She trots, and I post or sit in a raised seat, semi 2 pt. She does the rope gate, side passes, 2 tracks, and she loves to walk out. I will have her ready for kids to ride next spring. I will work on her lope this fall, when we can get to the fields and aren’t restrained by walls. She reminds me of our pole bending mare, Misty. They both have a great personality and are just pleasant to be around.

And now I have my first gaited horse, Savannah, a 4 year old TWH mare. Learning to glide along in the gait is a relaxing experience. We just start walking out, and soon we are walking faster, then she glides. Sometimes we try to walk too fast, and it gets bouncy, so I know it’s wrong. Savannah is a little goosey and jumpy, but yet she is fantastic on the trail. With the wet weather, it forces us inside. This is a good thing, as Savannah is exposed to arena things that I may not have exposed her to. The end result is that she is becoming more desensitized. She doesn’t care if the pole bending pole falls - maybe this will prepare her for a dropping branch (which did happen to riders in front of me at the Horsetrailrider's FBMDR). She doesn’t care about the rope on the rope gate, swinging at her head. She doesn’t care if I shake the water bottle that has a chunk of ice in it. She still minds hearing horses in the stall area though, and that will just take time.

Why not take your time training when the end result is better? Yes, it may take longer to get to the end result. I plan on taking 6 months and see where I’m at with these horses. The owner may only have 1, 2, or possibly 3, months of available funds. Then it’s my job to send them home with the resources to continue training their horse in a kind and non-threatening way. I teach my way of riding and handling horses. I show the rider what to continue to practice on. I encourage the rider to take the time to get the horse solid before moving on to the next harder step.

I am having a good time. I hope that will help to make me a better trainer. I know that is making a more relaxed riding horse. A horse who enjoys his job as much as I am enjoying my job!

“Embrace the Journey!”

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