Taking the time
Many of us get in a hurry to get our horses to do this or that and create an agenda in our minds. Horses live in the moment and we need to learn to do this as well. It's not easy because we live in an agenda oriented society. We grab the halter, decide to lead the horse somewhere and do whatever we had in mind. Sometimes it's best to slow down our thinking, slow, very slow and try to better tune into what the horse wants. Yes, many will say my horse doesn't have any say in the matter. What I have learned by allowing my horse a say when presented with something new is that by allowing him to back away or even leave with no repercussion, he will try so much harder the next time. A mare doesn't reprimand her foal that is afraid of something, she remains placid and lets the foal deal with it's issue. We often assume a horse is ok with something, when really maybe he's not. Corporal punishment will work but when the chips are down the horse will fall apart.
I agree with you 100%!
Here is an example of how this form of training works for me:
I was doing the circle game on the long rope wih Murphy (QH). He had been traditionaly trained and I was still working out the "bad start" with natural methods :)
Anyway- I was getting him to canter and asked a little too firmly (he is a SUPER sensitive guy) he reacted by yanking the rope from me and running to the other side of the arena.
Instead of yelling or going after him, I calmly walked about half way to him, smiling. I had him yeild his hindquarters from about 10 yards until he walked (hesitantly) over to me. You could tell that he was clearly EXPECTING to be punished like he had his whole life for being "naughty" (even though this was not naughtieness but a clear negative reaction to my asking to firmly when a slighter, phase 1 signal would have done fine)
when he approached, I immediately went to doing his favorite thing: I scratched his belly :)
He was SO suprised at the love vs. pinishment response..! And he clearly showed his appreceation when he followed me to the other side of the arena after about 5 minutes of belly scratching, and picked up that canter I had asked him for right away (before I even asked!)
Now, the willingness and bond this type of "forgiveness-based training" creates a horse who is happy to do what you ask and not fearful or doing what you ask because he's afraid of punishment. I will never go back to "traditional" ways of thinking. Now that I have experianced what natural horsemanship is and the fufillment it brings to a human/horse bond, it is all I will ever do :)
What a nice reminder for us to slow down around our horses and really enjoy the moment.
We are so plugged into our different electronic devices and busy schedules that it's easy to keep hecticly rushing after we pull up at the stable. It's good to remember that sometimes by rushing, we will actually end up progressing more slowly. A harried rider can make our horses nervous and tense - especially the sensitive or greener ones.
Yesterday to change things up I dropped the lead rope and walked away when the horse gave the smallest try. After a minute I'd ask again and got a much better try and again I walked away. This is a horse with hair trigger emotions so the energy had to remain very low. We tried a few other things and he was trying very hard to accommodate my requests. I continued to drop the lead and give him a break. The real difference came today as he greeted me completely relaxed in the pasture. Something he's never been able to tolerate was a person behind him, only if one hand was touching him. Today I stood directly behind out of the kick zone, stood still just focusing on my breathing. I then began to rock to one side and his head would turn a little to better see me. Then I rocked to the other side and he turned his head to see me. It became almost like a slow moving dance as I rocked side to side. I then backed up and walked away. When I began to approach him he came to me. This was at liberty so he could have left but opted to keep the connection.
Spirithorse, Here's a challenge for you. See how far you can walk with your horse, holding the lead rope about 4' from the halter, without taking out the slack. You have to figure out how to get him walking without a tug on the lead. If he won't start, as you stand on his left start walking in front of his nose. This seems to unglue the feet. You may need to get him to shift his hindquarters but do your best to keep the float in the rope. If he crowds you flap an elbow at him. After a while simply raising your hand will move him away. When my horse figured this out, it was strange to walk along and to feel nothing. We are all used to one of us pulling at some point.
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