06-26-2009, 01:36 AM
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Well, if you absolutely cannot afford a trainer, I'll give you a loose basis of my own methods:
Groundwork is absolutely key. I prefer working with foals because it can never start to soon. Before my horses are started under saddle, they behave perfectly on the ground. That means listening to voice commands and respecting my space. I can snap my fingers at my Arab mare to make her move because she's so in tune to what I may be asking of her. This is all from starting her from birth and a lot of leadline work. I ask them to move forward, backwards and away from me based on pressure, body language and voice commands. If you solidify the voice commands during basic leading lessons, it makes it a lot easier when you transition to lunge work. Once you move to lunge work, take your time and again only be satisfied when your horse is listening 100% - that means obeying whatever signal you give for walk, trot, canter, whoa and change of direction, consistantly.
After you have developed a respectful horse who listens attentively to you, you can move on to saddle work. Again, time and patience is key. Move slowly - introduce new things one at a time, and only move on to the next thing when it has been accepted completely. This could mean allowing her to get used to the weight of the saddle, and then moving on to doing up the girth when she's yawning from the saddle. Don't ever be "timid" - don't try and sneak the items on her. If she's rolling her eyes from the saddle being lifted up to her back, then stop and work on just that. If she's dancing when you do the girth up for the first time, the respect you earned during intensive groundwork should follow you. If it doesn't, you need to go back to groundwork and having her listen to "whoa" and "stand". Obviously everything should be done quietly and smoothly, just don't act scared or you're preparing for a blowup when she suddenly realizes what's going on and reacts negatively to it.
Common sense is the biggest factor. If she's acting nervous about something, don't move on to the next thing. Don't rush the training, don't allow her to flinch nervously when you lift up a saddle but then continue on to bridling anyway. Give her ample amounts of time to be not only accustomed, but completely comfortable with each new action or item you're introducing to her.
Obviously I'm sure you know a lot of this, or have done a lot of this already, but it's my own personal general guidelines. You can take everything I've said and apply it to different sequences, such as mounting and riding for the first time. Think exactly about what you want to teach her, how you're going to teach her, and what you're going to do if she gets upset. Don't just approach it with a "hope for the best" attitude, make yourself a gameplan for every training aspect so you can be prepared to deal with it. Thinking everything out will make it much easier for both of you. If she's flat out not accepting it, step back and rethink your gameplan and consider why she's not accepting it.
Anyway, hoped that helped a little. Good luck with her.