This is a continuation of the previous blog post so if you haven’t read that yet, please click the link below…
In this post I’m going to explain lessons 4-6 of How do you achieve a peaceful partnership with your horse?:
- How to put an end to any resistance between you and your horse, no matter how long you’ve been together
- How to get your horse to focus on you, both on the ground and in the saddle, even if he’s easily distracted
- How to do all this without using force or coercion
After we completed parts 1-3, we move on to the next stage of the journey…
#4 – Familiarization
Here we want to deepen the connection we have with our horses, which we do by taking time out to just be together.
This is the Intermission.
Through my research, I’ve learned that horses judge you primarily on familiarity and whether you fit in with the herd. Simply put, the more familiar you become to your horse, the more likely he is to connect with you.
Let me give you an example:
When I relocated from California to Maryland, which was a short plane ride for me but a mammoth road trip for my 3 horses: Jazz, his son Apollo and a younger, larger gelding I’d just acquired called D’Artagnan.
I was really concerned knowing that the 3 of them were couped up in the same trailer as the 2 older horses did not get along to well with the newcomer.
Eventually, the trailer arrived, and I was oh so happy to see my 3 boys again.
But I wasn’t at all prepared for what happened after we unloaded them and let them loose in a pasture. All three of them ran around together in the same pasture – as a herd. Before this trip, the three of them could not be in the same pasture. They couldn’t even be housed in side-by-side pastures. They would fight with each other over the fence line.
However, that 6-day trip spent in close proximity to each other had transformed their relationship. They now got a long as if they had always been a close nit herd.
Until you’ve tried it, you can’t imagine how powerful this process of just hanging out together is.
Here’s how using this tip helped Francis and her horse:
Now, I do want to point out that I’m not saying you should just let your horse do whatever he wants otherwise he will walk all over you, as you probably already know.
That is where Socialization comes into play.
Sometimes horses have learned to be pushy with humans because they either felt threatened, were abused, or they found out that they could get their way by using bad behavior.
So, like a good parent, you need to teach your horse some healthy boundaries and having built up sufficient levels of trust, you are now in a position to do this.
When your horse is doing something that you’re not comfortable with, then ask him to leave your space. By doing this you are training your horse to listen to your requests.
#5 – Education.
Like all animals that live in groups, horses learn from each other, and I have seen this happen with my own horses.
However, as partners with our horses it is our responsibility to show them what we want, especially if we want them to perform specific tasks like load in a trailer or pick up their feet. We want to set them up for success and be patient as they learn.
Remember too, this is a path you’re walking together with your horse and education goes both ways. So, throughout these first 2 stages of the journey, you must be open to learning as much from your horse as he will learn from you.
After you’ve completed this you’re ready to move on to the last stage,
#6 – Collaboration.
This is where the main part of the training and shaping your horse’s behavior takes place and it starts with the Connection Phase.
The most effective approach I found in all the years of training is something I call Blended Encouragement.
This is a combination of Negative Encouragement which you use to teach your horse a particular task and Positive Encouragement which you use to help him remember it.
This combination not only helps reduce any adverse effects from whatever has gone on before, but you should start to see an excitement from your horse for the things you do together. A true partnership will begin to take shape.
Then you move on to the Communication Phase where you work on fine tuning what you’ve done in the previous phases.
You remember we spoke about the importance of body language earlier in the journey and how it reveals your lack of focus if you are not paying attention?
However, use your body language the right way and you will be able to train your horse with precision with the result that he will become much more sensitive to your cues both on the ground and in the saddle. Thereby, focused on what you’re doing and what you’re asking, no matter what else is around.
We’re on the home stretch now as you enter the Collaboration Phase.
Here you incorporate both herd dynamics and herd behaviors to bring about an improved enthusiasm and enhanced well-being to both you and your horse.
Like all the different steps along this journey, this phase is not a one and done thing and what you will find is that every time you complete this phase you will see more cooperation, more connection, more focus, and have even more of a partnership at deeper levels with your horse.
It will literally get to the stage where you feel like you can read each other’s minds and you’ll be in total sync. It was a dream come true for me and I want you to feel that way too.
All of which brings you to a crossroads…
You can either forget everything that I have mentioned in this blog and just go back to doing things the way you’ve always done them.
Or, if you are feeling frustrated, confused and don’t know where the gaps in your understanding are, then what you need is not more information, what you need is transformation. It’s time to transform your relationship with your horse so you can finally experience the joy of your horse:
- Running up to the gate to greet you
- Standing quietly while you groom
- Listening to you like another horse in the herd
- Whinnying a delighted hello when they see you
- And willingly doing what you ask because they trust and love you
If that’s what you’re after in your life, then I’d like to help you on that journey…