I often ask folks if they are interested in hosting a clinic or a demonstration. Most I think are not sure what that means or how to go about doing it.
It's really pretty simple. If you have a handful of friends that you ride with or spend time with, and you think they would be interested in improving their horsemanship, that's all you need. If you host the clinic you get to attend for FREE!
I am also willing to do demonstrations to show you how I teach a horse in the round pen, or how to load in a trailer. So, think about it. It doesn't matter where you live. If you are interested we will do our best to make it happen for you and your friends.
Email or call.
Trust, the third principle I teach in horsemanship, is the one that takes the longest to master and sometimes the hardest to get. The key is the first two. If you understand intuition and control, trust will just happen.
There are things that you can do to reenforce trust. One thing that I have been doing now for couple of years has been pedestal training.
In the picture you see above, Pete is standing with all four legs. on the pedestal I just completed. It takes a lot of trust on the part of the horse, for him to stand on a box and let you walk away. This type of work has taught me how to really work on my skills as a horseman. You have to be patient with the horse, and with yourself. You really have to work on your ability to "Control" your horse's feet, one at a time. This is a real challenge, not only for you, but for your horse as well.
After spending just 30 minutes or so your horse will really start to listen to what you want and try hard to find the answer.
I think that the skill that it takes to get your horse to willingly stand on a pedestal, this tall and small, will help you understand what you need to work on. The horse will tell you what you need to do, if we will just listen.
The second principle I teach in horsemanship is Control.
This principle is so important. Why? Cause it relates to the next principle, Trust.
Some of you may know what out of control looks like. If any of you have ever had a horse run off with you on his back you know what out of control is all about.
So, how do I establish control?
I use the round pen to teach a horse the basics of control. See, I want, and need, to be able to control the horse's feet. Where he goes, how fast he goes and when he stops. This is pretty important. I need to be able to stop my horse, to turn my horse and get my horse to go forward. I have found that I can get that all done using the round pen. These skills that the horse learns in the round pen will translate to the saddle when its time to ride him.
Here is where the trust principle comes in. If I can control the horse's feet I can come to trust the horse. Why? Cause I know that, at anytime, I can get my horse to stop or turn or anything else I may need him to do, in order to be safe.
Often, the horse does not understand what we want or, is not willing to give up his place in the herd of two. This can get pretty frustrating at times. It's these times that I see people get upset, and at times angry. Some will lash out at the horse with a rope or a whip. Others will scream at the horse, as if the horse could understand what they are saying, which he can't, by the way.
So here is the most important part of the principle of Control. Learning to control YOU, yourself.
Horses are always going to be what they are, horses. They can't change that, and, neither can you. If you understand things from the horse's point of view, you will be better equipped to help the horse come around to your way of thinking. However, if you can't control YOU, your horse will never trust you. He will always be in fear of doing something that will set you off, resulting in something bad for the horse. The horse will never trust you to understand him, to try to act like him, be like him. All because you, don't seem to be able to control YOU!
Controlling our emotions can be a challenge for many. But if you truly want what's best for the horse, and in reality for yourself, you will have to learn how.
The dictionary defines intuition as: "The ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning".
That pretty much sums up the first principle that I teach in horsemanship.
The ability to look at a horse or a situation with a horse, and know what the horse needs. Doing so with no real conscious reasoning. This skill takes time to understand and master.
We use the word a lot when we speak of women. For example you have heard it said that "it's a woman's intuition ". Notice that its not called a little girls intuition. Why? Cause it has taken a lot of time for a woman to look at a guy and know! They usually are right. They can sum up who a fella is just by watching him walk, or listening to him talk. The point I'm trying to make is, it takes time to develop this skill. The more you are around horses and, the more you work with horses the quicker you will learn this skill.
I also use intuition, and teach this skill, when teaching folks to ride. I, and others, call it an intuitive cue or signal. If I have to use my leg or a rein to cue the horse I call that a mechanical cue. You will be surprise at how easy it is to cue a horse, just by thinking what you want your horse to do rather then making him.
Horses are very intuitive animals and respond to this type of cue better then you may think.
So, last Friday we talked about how horses find their place in the herd, and how the lead horse establishes his, or her, self as leader.
The key here is, dominant horses make the subordinate horses move their feet. You'll remember they do that by pinning their ears, biting, or if all else fails, kicking. Now you and I can't do either of these things, but we can teach the horse that our body language, can mean the same thing.
Remember, horses don't have a clue what we are saying early on. They have to be taught that too. But, they do understand what our body language means, when we put meaning to it. How's that?
Well, what we are going to do, or what I have learn to do, is teach the horse that the signals I'm about to give him mean something. At first they won't have a clue what any of it means but they will. For example: I use signals or cues in three's. When I get my horse in the round pen, I will point in the direction I want my horse to go. At first he won't have a clue what that is or means. But, if I point, then start to wave my stick with a string on it, or I raise my rope in the opposite hand, then the third thing, toss my rope at the horse or touch the horse with the string, until the horse goes the direction I want him to go, he soon figures out that, when I point he needs to move. Pretty soon, all I have to do is point in the direction I want the horse to go and he will go. This takes time, but not much.
See, once the horse figures out that if he doesn't go when I point that I'm going to start with the stick or rope, and I won't quit with them till he moves, he will move off the point of the arm so he don't have to deal with the stick or the rope. As soon as the horse moves in the right direction the pressure goes away. He does not like pressure. So, it won't take long for him to understand that, if he wants to be comfortable he needs to do what is asked of him, he will do that.
Again the key is doing what horses do. Make them move their feet. For some horses it takes longer then others, but I have never, and I mean never, in my years of working with horses, ever seen it NOT work. I have used this process to fix all sorts of problems. From horses bucking to horses not wanting to get in the trailer.
So what are the principles of horsemanship that I use and teach? I'll tell you a little bit about that tomorrow.
Share with your friends if you think it would help them.
So how do they do it? How does one horse become the dominant horse in the herd?
It's, to me, amazing how simple it is for the horse. But we humans have a hard time understanding it. We think it must me some magical process that would take us years to understand, if we ever could. And there are a lot of trainers out there that want you to think that they are the only ones that have it figured out. And, if you ever want to understand it you're going to have to spend a lot of money to get it. Wrong!
Horse dominate one another by getting the other horses to move their feet. How does that work you ask? If you put a pile of hay in the middle of an arena let's say, and you turned out a few horses, what happens when the horse that thinks itself dominant do? I'll give you a second to think about it. Got it? Yep that's right. He will go over to the horses that are at the hay pile and he will pin his ears at the other horses. If they don't move, he will bite at them. If that don't work he will wheel around and kick the living you know what out of them. Most of the time the pinning of the ears is enough to get the other horses to move their feet and get away from the food so the dominant horse can eat first.
What happens if one of the horses at the pile does not want to move? What if one of the horses at the pile of hay thinks he should be dominant? Then there is a discussion between the two horses and the horse that drives the other away, and eats first, has established himself as leader.
So how do I do that? I can't pin my ears and I can't bite a horse, without looking ridicules and coming out of it with a mouth full of hair, and I certainly can't kick a horse hard enough to do anything. So, smart guy, how do I do all of that?
I'll tell you Monday.
Enjoy your weekend with your horses.
To become the leader in a herd of two, you and the horse, it will help to understand how horses feel about their leader.
Horses have a pecking order, if you will, in their herd arrangement. The reason for this pecking order has everything to do with survival.
The horse that claims the responsibility of leader, does so, in order to survive. They don't assume the role, or take the role, because they think they are tougher then the rest of the herd. They do it because, in their mind, in order to survive its a role that someone has to take, and they feel they can do the best job.
It comes with it's perks. You get to eat first. You get to drink first. And, if you are a stallion you get to, you know what, first. Most people are not aware that, usually, the dominant horse in a herd is a mare, not a stallion. That makes perfect sense to me given my experience with women in my life, wife, daughters, you get the point.
So, to become a leader to a horse that considers it self to be the leader in its herd, takes some convincing. But it can be done.
To do that, however, you have to understand how a dominant horse, becomes the dominant horse. Let me start by explaining they don't do it with treats. So if you think you can earn a horse's respect by bribing the horse with treats, somewhere down the trail this is going to come back to bite you in the backside. And, you may get hurt in the process. Horses do not bribe their herd mates in order to become the leader. We humans seem to be the only ones that think this works.
So how do horses dominate horses?
Tomorrow the answer.
Just before we left Tucson, I got the chance to work with some folks that were a little new to horses. They had already had a serious accident where one of the sons had broken his arm. There were three that came to work with me. The mother and two of her sons. The boys were both in their twenties. The son that broke his arm did not come with them for the mini clinic.
Anyway, one thing that I got ask, or was said durning our three days together is, "I don't get the ground work. I don't like doing it so, we don't". The key phrase in this whole deal is, to me, "I don't get the ground work".
I have a whole list of horses that have come to me with some big problems. Big enough that, if they did not get fixed here, they were on their way to the killers. Now I've had lots of people tell me that all those horses needed was to have the thunder ridden out of them. And there was a time when I would have agreed with them, but after years of working with "problem horses", I have discovered that's not the answer to their problem. So, how did I figure this all out?
When horses in the wild have problems with each other, say, a young horse is trying to move up in the herd, what does a dominant horse do to settle the issue? Does he get out his "horse saddle" and ride the thunder out of the horse that is misbehaving? Nope. He impresses on the young, ill behaved horse, that, that conduct is not allowed in the herd, and they fix all of that on the ground. The dominant horse will make the ill behaved horse move his feet and he will run that horse out of the herd. The dominant horse will keep that ill behaved horse on the outside of the herd until the Ill behaved horse shows signs of wanting to come back and, accept his place in the herd.
I have found, over time, doing things the way the horse would do it in the wild the best that we can as humans, will produce result that most would never expect.
I have found that, no matter the problem, most horses, the vast majority, can have their issues addressed on the ground. That keeps me safe, and really addresses the horses underlying problem, lack of respect. See, horses that have issues have issues because they want to be the leader in the herd of two. That herd being you and your horse. Some horses do not like to be told what to do and will fight, what they see as someone trying to take their place in the herd. You can't blame them and shouldn't. They are just being horses. Knowing that makes helping them much easier. You leave your ego out of it and just work to help the horse understand his place in their relationship with humans. Once the horse realizes that you are the leader he will be more the willing to give you that responsibility. He really doesn't want it anyway. But if you're not going to prove yourself a good leader he feels he has no choice but to be that leader, in order to survive.
For some folks, becoming the leader comes easy to them. It's kind of who they are. But to many, being a leader is not.
We will talk more about that tomorrow.
Well, this passed week has found me on the couch nursing a bad back. So, It's been a bit of a slow start for me sense we got back from Tucson AZ. It's feeling better but I can tell it's not right. Have been to be back cracking doc and he wanted me to stay down for at least a week, and I've done that. So, its time to get back after it.
The weather here has been great compared to north and east of us. A little cool, but not to cool to keep a guy from riding. Will get a little of that in today. Need to work with a horse that we have had for a long time. We found him a new home and I just want to make sure he is ok before he heads out this weekend.
I'm looking for some outside horses to train. They don't have to be from right around here. I've had horses come here for training from as far away as Kansas and East Texas So, if you are in need of some help I hope you will give me a shot at it.
If you are having issues with your horse and just need some advice, email me and I will help you all I can. Or if there is something you would like me to visit in my blog here, let me know.
Will try and keep you updated with info on what the heck I'm doing with horses and music.