Ok, so maybe the title is a bit of an exaggeration. It's a working title.
Alright, so what's this thing about? Just an idea I've been kicking around for awhile.
Allow me to set the scene.
For the past 15 years or so I've been chipping away at this horsemanship thing. Giving myself an education through my own study and experimentation in the school of hard knocks. You could say that in my education I'm majoring in horsemanship with a minor in cowboyism. Thanks to the patronage of my good friend and his un-used parcel of land I've been able to have unlimited access to 36 acres on the California coast for the past 6 years. It's been a unique learning experience, to see how the horses live when given room to move and express their true natures and I've learned a lot.
In addition to observing how the horses live in this open space, I have a round corral which has been like a live laboratory for learning and experimenting with different training methods and styles. There are also trails nearby, and a 4-mile stretch of open beach which is like the world's biggest and most beautiful arena (it's great for galloping).
Cool right? I dig it.
Ok! So what's the point? I'm getting to it! I promise, there's a video in here somewhere. XD
My goal in making this is just to share my process with people. Just for the sheer hell of it, because I enjoy it. I don't take anything I'm doing too seriously, I don't consider myself to be a 'professional horse trainer', I'm just a huge geek about horses. I've studied just about every well-known (and some lesser known) trainer and method out there and have done A TON of trial-and-error experimentation. Seriously. For the past few years especially I've lived and breathed this stuff. I was probably one of giddyupflix's heaviest users. Always looking forward to the next idea, the next DVD or book, so that I could get it all figured out for myself and for every horse, forever.
As you can probably guess, that hasn't happened. I don't think it's possible to know it all anyway. However, I woke up one day to discover that in my quest for 'perfection' I had gained a fair bit of knowledge and some measure of ability and suddenly realized that I have some ideas of my own to share!
So that's what this youtube show is about. Just me and my horses, sharing what we've learned. Some of the things I'll talk about come from other teachers, some of it is from my own experience. Most of it is a combination of both.
There's no commercial aspect to this, except in the sense that I'm building up a body of work which potential future clients could refer to if they'd want to learn more about what I do. But the content is always free, and I have nothing to sell. My desire to become good with horses and the things I learn along the way are my gift to the horse world. I think that by giving that gift freely, my life will be enriched in ways not yet imagined. So that's my motivation.
So let's get on with it! Here's the video:
Calling the plays: This ride is a variation on an idea I got from Martin Black. His "Round Pen to Arena" series gives his take on it in greater detail. This interpretation is something I came up with as an exercise in basic control of the horse that can be done in a round pen or other small enclosure, maybe as a way to gain a better handle on a green horse before riding outside. The idea is to get my horse up alongside the mounting block and make that the place where we rest and chill together. Then we'll leave that spot and move around a bit before returning to the same spot. At the conclusion of the ride, I'll dismount on the mounting block. I see there being several benefits to this exercise:
1. Teaches the horse where the center of a circle is. By making the center the best place to be, she'll learn to seek the center of a circle in her thoughts later on when things are sped up.
2. Teaches her to pick up the mounting block and stand patiently next to it. A useful skill!
3. Simultaneously, I'm working on guiding my horse with less pressure, less visible effort, and greater refinement. I'm particularly focused on how I'm handling the reins, working toward my goal of being able to guide her ON SLACK! (without pulling)
4. This short, low-stress way of 'training' my horse allows her greater retention of the material presented and keeps her attitude positive. Note that by the time I'm done riding her, her ears are up and she maintains a pleasant expression.
The horse I'm using for this demonstration is my mare Ginger. I've been so busy getting the camp and horses ready for winter that I haven't done much riding lately, so she's a bit distracted by the other horses and thinking that they're leaving her. I wanted to attempt to get her attention re-focused on me with a minimum amount of sweat and dust raised, and I'm really pleased with the results.
I should caution anyone attempting to do this to be careful when dismounting on the block as you stand a good chance of falling underneath your horse if you've got one foot on the step and the other in the stirrup and they start to leave. So make sure that they stand good!
I reckon that'll do to go on for now! Just like with everything else I've posted here, if anyone has questions, comments, or just wants to tell me how much you think I SUCK, I'll be here to answer them! -Ian