Small Things that Matter in Horse Training
One thing you need to remember when you are relating with horses is the fact that they actually read all your actions, behaviour and attitude. They interpret this each time and decide whether you are someone they can trust or not. This is especially true if the horse is unfamiliar of you and you are still trying to build partnership with him. What does this mean to you? This means that you shouldn’t be too careless in your actions and behaviour when relating to a horsemanship. You need to take control of all your movements and demeanor while you are with your horse and make sure that your horse sees you as someone who is confident and credible of being a leader. This way, you can easily earn his trust and it will be easier for you to train him on anything you want him to do.
As horses cannot communicate in words, they communicate through body language. And they use the same body language to evaluate you as a person whether you are someone they can trust or not. They are closely paying attention to your position, your emotions, speed and overall demeanor.
As you progress on training your horse, you need to keep the following points in mind in order for you to not lose your horse’s trust but to continue building and strengthening it along the way.
Keep Your Attention on Your Horse
The first thing for you to remember is that you need to keep your attention on your horse and not let it drift away. The moment you let your attention wander to something or somewhere else, your horse will also take his attention away from you. Therefore, by any means, keep your attention to your horse no matter who or what comes along. In the end, the moment you let you go of your attention towards your horse is the moment that you lose control of situations. Unavoidably, this happens from time to time as there are a million of thoughts that come along in an individual’s mind and a lot of things that can interfere while you are working with your horse, but you need to keep bringing back your focus and full attention towards your horse each time.
Second thing to keep in mind is that individual horses learn very differently. Just like children, some of them learn quickly while others learn quite slowly. Therefore, you need not be too rigid on your horse training. You need to evaluate the current learning status of your horse and apply training techniques that matches his current skills and knowledge. You need to be extremely flexible when it comes to teaching your horse.
Another thing you should bear in mind as a horse trainer is that when you train your horse, you should do it in a horse logical manner. You need to do it step by step. You shouldn’t introduce something he is completely unfamiliar of without any relevance to previously learned abilities. Teach the horse step by step until you eventually reach your horsemanship goals. This is the best way to keep increasing his vocabulary until you are able to reach a point where communication is easy as if you are speaking to another human being. When you reach this point, you will see your horse responding accurately to each of your requests without any difficulty.
Never Use Pressure to Punish a Horse
Next thing you ought to practice is for you to use pressure appropriately. Never use pressure to punish a horse even for misbehaviour or failure of following your requests. Punishment usually never works. Use pressure aids wisely to bring the results you want. You have to keep in mind that in applying pressure to get a horse to follow your suggestion or request, you need to use perfect timing. This means that you need to know when a horse is ready for it. Do not introduce new things that are way too far from what he has already learned. Establish connection from previously introduced ideas and horse training will go smoothly for both you and your horse.
When a horse adheres to your requests, reward him by taking the pressure off. This will encourage him to do the same thing and to continue adhering the next time you make the very same request.
Maintain relaxation and rhythm all the time. Observe your horse for signs of distress when you introduce something else to him. Tightening of the muscles or of the neck for example will tell you that your horse has left his relaxation and comfort zone. So you need to bring him back to a phase that he is familiar in order to bring his confidence and calmness back. Don’t force the horse to do anything when he is not ready for it.
You also have to take note that horses have a huge memory bank. They remember a lot of things and keep these memories saved for future use when needed. Therefore it is important for you to make sure that his encounter with anything unusual remains pleasant. So that when he encounters them again in the future, he will never be afraid of them anymore. So, make sure that every experience and encounter on any situation or object in the environment is pleasant and never scary. You need to handle every situation and encounter properly so your horse will do the very same thing and will keep doing it in the future even when he is already on his own.
Avoid losing your temper while you are with your horse. The reason for this is because you are going to destroy the trust he has on you and you will most likely have total difficulty gaining it back. It is true that horse training can sometimes be difficult and it will be very easy for you to lose your temper when you don’t get the results that you want. However, the last you would want to do is to lash out with anger towards your horse. Whenever you feel like doing so, you have to stop your training and let yourself and your horse rest before you attempt to train him again the next day. When you are not in the mood for horsemanship, don’t force yourself.
Too many times, riders and trainers operate based on their ago and not on their sincere interest to teach the horse. They wanted to prove to themselves and to other people that they can make the horse follow their orders and requests without any hassle. When this happens, frustration builds up. Therefore, anyone teaching a horse should not operate based on his ego.
Lastly, each of you needs to bear in mind that every little thing matters to a horse when you are training him. So, don’t take anything for granted in horse training.