My Training Philosophy
I believe horses should have as much fun during training and riding sessions as I do! I use psychology to cause horses to want to do things, feel confident, and get respectful and responsive. They should not be stressed out, angry, frustrated, or scared...that teaches them nothing except for not to let themselves be caught as easily next time.
I always start on the ground - safer for me and less stressful for the horse. I go through some basic groundwork to make sure the horse is connected with me, respectful and responsive, and happy to have me on his back.
The typical groundwork I go through is teaching the horse to:
- go sideways
- respond to appropriately to pressure when I ask them to move their hindquarters, front end, back up, or go sideways
- Circle at the walk, trot, and canter
- Change directions on a circle
- Help them become confident with things like tarps, balls, plastic bags, rain jackets, umbrellas, and anything else "scary" they may encounter on a trail ride or at a show.
- Become confident in enclosed or tight spaces - building their confidence by asking them to go in between various objects
- Lateral Flexion
Depending on the horse's level of training, temperment, and trust and respect for humans this can take anywhere from 5 or 10 minutes to several sessions.
Even when a horse is fully trained its still a great idea to check them out on the ground, see how they're feeling that day, and get them connected and responsive by playing on the ground for 5 or 10 minutes before you ride.
Once I'm on the horses back I go through the same things I worked on on the ground and it is familiar and non-stressful to the horse since they have already learned it on the ground.
- Yielding the hindquarters on the ground off of pressure from my fingertips becomes a turn on the forehand in the saddle.
- Going sideways on the ground turns into sidepassing, turning from leg aids, and leg yielding at the walk, trot, and canter.
- Moving the front end away from my fingertips on the ground becomes a turn on the haunches.
- Teaching a horse to maintain gait and make soft transitions on a circle on the ground teaches them it is their responsibility to keep going at the gait you ask for while riding - no more clucking or nudging every few strides until you feel like you are working harder than the horse!
Once you have a relationship with your horse, once you have a horse that wants to be with you and wants to do things for you and no goal is unachieveable, no dream is too big. The sky is the limit to what you can do!