When I am working with a horse for the first time. I like to start by getting their attention. I would do this just by being there. If I don't get a response I might kiss to them or maybe start walking toward them till I do get a response. Then I would stop and maybe even backup a step or two. I would keep doing this till I had them looking at me no matter where I went or what I was doing. Once I have their undivided attention. Now I can move on to working on having them turn and face me. If they do this well I may test them a little to see how they feel about me. I do this by making a quick movement. In order to do this and get proper results, you have to make sure you set up for success. Make sure that when you make this quick movement, that you are prepared to control the direction if the horse thinks about running away. Also make sure you are able to cut them off and stop them from running. Sometimes they will go to the fence and just keep changing directions. Soon they will think about turning and looking at you. When they do, stop and walk away. This is something I do to get them thinking more about me. It helps to get them to pay more attention. It also teaches them to look to me for leadership and advise. They soon will start to focus on me for a cue anytime there is an issue of any kind.
A lot of trainers do something for desensitizing with their horses. It is important to know, we don't just want them to get used to what ever it is that scares them. There is no way we can possibly get them used to everything that will scare them. What we should be doing is teaching them to look to us for advice when their scared. This way no matter what it is, even if it is something they never seen before, they are going to wait on us to give them direction. If we work on this in different ways, we gain their trust. They will start to look at us as a confidant leader. They will trust us with their life. We do this by taking control of their emotions. Once they know you can control their direction and emotions then you become leader and it will hardly ever be tested once its established.
I work with a horses emotions right away. When I go in to be with them or trying to get their attention. Anytime while I am with the horse, if I notice any nervousness I will use it to my advantage. I do this by not stopping what I am doing till the horse acknowledges me. In the beginning I will stop there. As I continue I want them to show me signs of relaxation. Always wanting just that little bit more each time. We have to remember that progress won't come by staying in the same place. We need to move on and ask for a little more each time. It is very attainable to make huge progress in just 10 minutes. Some people are afraid to move to fast and that leaves them in same place for way to long. For some, days, months or even years.
The whole time I am working with a horse I am aware of what they're doing, how they feel, where they are going, and if it is something I asked for or if they are doing it on their own. I am always evaluating what they are doing, what I am doing, and if anything needs to change.
In the next post I will talk about the process I use to start increasing their vocabulary. Some of it is verbal cues. Most of it is just communicating to them that I need something to happen. None of this would work if we didn't get their attention first.
I would like to remind everyone, this is an interactive Blog. Comments and Questions are always welcome.