Monday, January 28, 2013

Communicating With Flow of Energy

When you see a wild herd of horses running through a canyon at a full gallop. Did you ever notice they barely  ever run into each other? This is because they are so in tune with the flow of energy. They naturally follow it and go where it goes. This is something I find to be instinctive in all horses. I do find Wild horses or horses that are aloud to live in a herd understand it best. Although all horses communicate this way.

I've mentioned in other posts about how closing the distance will push them away and increasing the distance will draw them toward you. This happens because they are following the flow of energy. Now there can be times they ignore the flow of energy. If that happens it means they are testing the relevance of the energy itself, or they are testing to see if you have true intention behind this energy. Another reason you may not get a response is they may not recognize your authority and don't feel they need to respond. Having the foundation set is so important. You have to have a relationship built and you must be seen as the confident leader.

Once this is all in place and you know you have their attention. Wherever you focus your  energy the horse will follow that flow. On the ground, once the foundation is set, when your leading your horse they will just go with you and not try to pass you. If you stop they stop. If you backup they backup. Without putting any lead line pressure. This goes even further with you turning into them, they should step away quietly and just go with the flow, and they will if they see you as the confidant leader. Wherever your energy is flowing they will go. Even when you direct and drive them out away from you, during lunging, or pushing on the hip to get them to turn and face you. A horse just naturally follows the flow of energy. (As long as we are clear with our intention and have their respect).

When we're mounted, we need to still be aware of this energy flow. We are not just sitting up there, kicking to go and pulling on the reins to direct and stop them. We need to direct them with an energy flow they can feel. Using the reins and a gentle bump with your legs only to correct them if they don't respond to the subtle body cues. At the same time we must be balanced and in tune with their energy flow. Anything that disrupts a smooth energy flow will raise anxiety. If we ask for a 90 degree right turn while the front right leg is in the air and traveling forward we have just interrupted the flow. What we want to do is be aware of every foot fall so we can ask for things at the opportune moment. In the example above we should ask for this turn while the front right foot is about to baring weight just before it is ready to push off. This will keep a smooth flow of energy.

Controlling movement from the saddle is as simple as staying balanced and keeping rhythm. Stay in rhythm with your horse and focus your energy where you want to go. It really is that simple. The horse feels you up there so well, every move means something. Now if you are a rider who never paid any attention to this, or you are a rider who has a very stiff core, then your horse has learned that they don't have to pay any attention to it either. We need to stay very supple and balanced, moving freely with our horse. This is where our communication skills we have been talking about throughout these posts come in handy. Getting this in the saddle must start on the ground. We need to get the horse paying attention to our body language on the ground first. If they are doing this well, when you are up on their back, they will still be focused on what your body language is saying using feel. Again it needs to be a smooth energy flow.

Our energy needs to match theirs, or be just slightly ahead of theirs. Meaning, we need to learn how to properly toggle our energy during communication.  However we feel or act will effect our horse. We will cover this a bit more in depth in our next post. "Our Energy During Communication"
Thank you for reading.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Working With Emotions

We have discussed Emotions in many of our earlier posts. In this post I would like to talk more in detail about this very important topic.

A horse is an extremely emotional animal. When we are around them we need to be aware of this. We must also be aware of our emotions. Our emotions affect theirs. Many people aren't aware that we can control a horses emotions. If we stay calm and relaxed, they will stay calm and relaxed. In order for this to work we need to have their attention and their trust. Without having both of these in place, they are more emotional when they are with us then they are when they're turned out on their own.

Being aware of their emotions and knowing what to look for will help. Its important to recognize what their emotional state is before you can do anything about it. Being a prey animal, they instinctively think everything is out to get them. I've heard it said that a horse is only afraid of 2 things. Things that move and things that stay still. This translates into everything. It amazes me how some horses are fine with things they should be afraid of and go nuts over things that shouldn't bother them at all. So for this reason alone we need to gain control over their emotions so we don't end up an equine statistic.

When I first start working with a horse, I like to always be saying to them, in one way or another,"Don't worry about anything, I got this."  It needs to be done in a way that its, A Matter of Fact. Not in a way of, Easy, its ok, don't worry, easy, easy, and you find yourself moving real slow and creeping around your horse. This behavior will for sure make them nervous. Remember, we are supposed to be the strong one in the relationship. If we don't show confidence, they will worry.

 Here we have a series of photos that shows some emotion being relieved. To the left we see hesitation and to the right we see that when he went he went quick. his nerves got the best of him.

 After a few times going through, allowing him freedom of choice and guidance he started to relax. you can see it in his posture. To the left still going a little fast, to the right he is keeping with me pretty well. The last photo bottom left he is very relaxed.

As I go along in the training, I am always aware of and evaluating their emotions. Its not just about asking them to do something. Its about communicating to them that we would like them to do something in a specific way, confidently and respectfully. When you first start just a step in the right direction is good for a pause and a reward. Each time you should wait for just that little bit better response before you pause and reward. You will be amazed at how much progress you can make in just 10 or 15 minutes. Always have a finished goal in mind. This should be moving responsively with as light a pressure as possible,  continuing until asked to stop or transition into something else. We should also be looking for a more relaxed and supple posture, not feeling any resistance from them in any way. Now this is the end result. True perfection is never attained. We must always be looking for the things we need to improve on. Being aware of the emotions will help you attain this much faster.

So, how do we deal with emotions? Here are a few examples of what I do in certain situations. If I am asking a horse to do something and I notice some apprehension, I will just keep asking, slowly increasing pressure until I get a try, then I release. always looking back at myself to make sure I am being clear with my intention. I don't want to push harder and raise emotion if the reason is, my body language isn't clear. Sometimes its hard to remember to evaluate yourself, but we must get into the habit. If we don't, we tend to blame the horse for our mistakes. You won't get trust and relieve emotion like that. Another example I can give is, if I am riding or leading a horse somewhere and something startles the horse or has them a bit on edge. I  ask the horse to turn and face whatever it is that is causing the issue. This helps them learn to face their fears. I will just ask them to stand and look at it until they show me they are starting to except it. Then we walk away. If it is something that has really got them a mess, I will stay longer and get them to approach it (if its safe to do so) and really learn to except it. Every time you do things like this, you are showing them that you are in tune with their emotions, letting them know you understand their emotional needs.It also proves to them that you know what is worth being scared of and what isn't. This helps so much to relieve their anxiety, and get them to put all their trust in us.

Another thing you may want to keep in mind. Transitions, whether they are speed or direction changes, can raise a horses emotions. Many people can't get through a simple walk to a trot transition. Even more have trouble getting into a canter. The reason for this is instinct most of the time. Instinct tells a horse if the herd needs to go fast then we need to get away from whatever is coming to get us. We need to teach them that nothing is coming to get us, we just want to go a bit faster. A herd of horses are naturally lazy. They would much rather stand around and graze all day. If the herd is moving quick their emotions go into survival mode.
Another reason for not responding could be, the horse is lazy, or we are not balanced and in tune with them causing restriction. If this is the case our riding skills need to fixed before moving on. If we are inhibiting them from free relaxed movement, then we won't be able to stop the emotional outbreak because we are causing it. If we are accomplished riders and are having this problem, then what I do is I keep asking for the change, going back and forth until I get a better response, then I  move on to something else. After a while I will come back and try again. Stopping and moving on is huge in gaining control over their emotions. It tells them,"If you just relax it will go away."  I do this every time I am with a horse, on the ground or in the saddle. Anytime they relax a bit more than they were I stop and move on. No matter what it is I am working on. Sometimes its just for a few seconds and we start again.

So if we remember not to just be happy with whatever they give us and be more aware of exactly what we want, being aware of their emotions, and always looking for improvement. Then our leadership roll becomes stronger. Once they are totally excepting us as Qualified Leader, then all their stress is relieved. It becomes our responsibility. This takes time and practice. It also takes a lot of awareness and constant evaluation on our part. Making sure we know exactly what we are asking and exactly what we are getting. Being aware and in tune with their emotions, always rewarding for any form of relaxation.

Thank you for reading.
Our next topic will cover "Communicating With, Flow of Energy"

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Getting Their Attention

In our last post we talked about "Attention and Awareness"
In this post we will discuss more in detail on how I get their attention and begin working with them at the start of a program. You may want to refer back to "Attention and Awareness" occasionally.

 I start this process in a round pen usually. I like to first get their attention by not allowing them to run around or move. I push them to a spot I want them to be and then leave them alone. I will then wait and see if they try to leave. If they do, I put them back till they get the idea they need to stay and wait for instruction. At this point I have their attention. Not very well but they're thinking about me. Once they will stay put I position myself in front of them and keep a distance of 15 to 20 ft away. It can be longer. Remember not to close the distance at all during any part of this exercise unless you are trying to cut them off from running away, or applying extra pressure to get them to look at you. Creating more distance will draw them to you. Closing the distance will push them away from you. My goal at this stage is to turn myself into a magnet and draw their attention to me no matter where I go. I start in front if they look left I go right. Their curiosity makes them look back at me, so I stop and say good boy/girl. Sometimes moving to the side makes them want to leave, that's fine. Just control the direction and speed and put them back. It is good after a while to pick a new spot. But you choose when and where. If they move every time you move to the side, then you may want to just stay put and make some noise, or move your arms to get their attention. Stopping as soon as you get a try. Holding them to a higher standard each time. Once you can get all the way around to their hip, its time to encourage them to turn and face you. Now you have to learn how to reverse the polarity in your human equine magnet. It works best if you push on the hind end and draw on the eye. How?  Close the distance toward the hind to push, while at the same time increase the distance on the eye to draw it toward you. I know some of you said WHAT!!!  All the movement is in the shoulders. So if you are standing on the horses right side. Your left hand and shoulder would reach out toward the hind. At the same time your right hand will come back tight to your body while you draw your right shoulder back. You are pretty much pivoting on your hips. At first they will most likely start to walk forward. If they do, without closing the distance, go along with them working on getting ahead of the drive line. If they stop, you stop and take a step back to reward their efforts. Eventually you will be able to just push on the hind end to turn them toward you. This may end up being a bit much for written text. I wish I had photos to provide some illustrations. I do apologize. Question can be answered in the comment section if you would to ask any. 

The above is an example of how I get their attention. I will discuss in this paragraph what we need to be aware of as we do it. There is so much that I may not be able to mention it all. We for sure want to be aware of what the horse is saying to us, (I.E. are they excited, relaxed, focused at all). We also want to be aware of our intention. Where would we like them to stand. Have that spot picked out before you start. Same thing for when you are ready to change spots. Pick it out before you decide to change. We need to develop a very keen self awareness. This way we will be aware of what our body language is saying. Remember, anytime you close the distance you push them away, and anytime you increase the distance, you draw them to you. So we have to be very aware of that. A slight lean can make a big change some times. Location awareness. Where are you and where is your horse?  This way if you have to put them back you can get right to where you were. The closer the better. We need to be aware of how much pressure works. We want to know how little we need, instead of how much. We should be trying to make the pressure we use lighter and lighter every time. If you increase your awareness, you will do a better job evaluating. The better you do evaluating, the more likely you will show clear intention. The more aware we are, the better chance we will respond at the Opportune moment. Opportune is discussed in "Alphabets of Communication."

When working on getting a horses attention. Our goal is to teach them to think and focus, but also to recognize us as a qualified and confidant leader. If they see us as Qualified Leader,(we do not want to demand the position) then they will always look to us for advise and guidance. The reason for this is all the stress of worry can be discarded from their system. If they trust us enough, it becomes our responsibility. To get to this point you must have their attention first of all, be aware of their emotions, and be able to respond to and control their emotions.  Being able to communicate to them, "Relax I got this, you don't need to worry one bit" will help your relationship so much. It will give you a more relaxed and stress free horse.

In our next post the topic will be "Working With Emotions"  We will talk about how to be aware of them and how to respond to them. Thanks again for reading along with us.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Attention and Awareness

Attention and Awareness was covered in brief in two of our earlier posts,  "Alphabets of Communication"  and "Starting the Conversation." We will go more in depth about these two very important principals here in this post.

Attention is said to mean;  1 mental concentration or readiness  2 notice or observation  3 care or consideration  4 an act of courtesy or devotion  5 the erect posture of soldiers ready for a command.

Awareness is said to mean;   knowing; realizing; conscious

As you can see the two words go hand in hand. You can't be aware if your not paying attention. Also if you don't have your horses attention, they won't be aware of your intention.

Attention to detail is the key to success no matter what you do. From making shoes to building beautiful buildings, or art work. When it comes to communication, attention is a key element for both parties. If you are communicating something to someone or your horse, you want to make sure you have their attention in order for them to fully understand you. Attention and focus is so important.

 When I was married to my ex-wife  she had 2 boys. One of them was having trouble in school and the school wanted him on medication for his lack of paying attention. I refused to go that root. I took him home and taught him to meditate for 5 minutes a day. After a few weeks of this his school work improved. By his next report card he was on the honor roll and stayed there throughout his remaining school years. Now he is a Machinist making parts with .005th of and inch or less tolerances. I gave this example because it is something I see in our human world and in our equine world. Lack of focus will not allow you to pay attention. People ask me how I can get such good progress with a horse in such a short time? I tell them,"I get their attention so they understand what it is I am asking of them and I make my intention very clear."  If they're paying attention and you have their respect, then your intention becomes clearer.

Most of us can tell if we have our horses attention or not. At the same time many of us are unaware of how well a real attentive horse can perform. If you have ever, or if you ever, get a chance to ride or work with a horse that is very well focused and not easily distracted. You will absolutely want your horse to be like that. It is attainable for every horse. Being aware of what to look for can help. If your horse is acting nervous and scared, looking all around. Then they are not being attentive. We get their attention with exercises that make them want to focus on us and the task we are asking them to do. Always insisting on their focus and rewarding them for doing so. When we teach them to focus we give them better understanding. This in turn takes away their anxiety. The better they learn to focus, the better they behave emotionally. A solid relationship is built this way, as long as its all respectful.

Being aware of everything and being able to respond to it in a reasonable manner is important as well. We need to be aware of our horses emotions and whats happening around us. If our horse is more interested in or nervous about something else. We need to make ourselves a bit more interesting to them. There are a number of ways to do this, but in brief, some extra movement on our part, keep asking them to continue doing whatever it is we are doing at the time, or transition into something else. Any of these can get their attention. You can also ad some light rein or lead pressure, or leg pressure during some riding exercises. Rewarding with a relies when you get a try. Remember to always hold them to a higher standard a little at a time for the next relies.  Proper evaluation will help you make the best choice for that particular situation. We will cover many of these in future posts. I will mention that I prefer to use implied or assumed pressure first. Using direct pressure, as in pulling on the lead or reins only if they do not respond. This will help your horse to think more and focus on your intention.

Our next post will cover "Getting Their Attention" and some detailed information on how I start with a horse that is entering one of my programs.
Thank you for reading along with us. I hope you enjoy it and find it helpful.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Failing to Communicate Intention

Intention  is a key element of communication. You need to confidently show clear intention respectfully in order to get results. Failing to show intention will get you poor results, or no results at all. Intention is so much more than a thought, or an idea. Intention has meaning, integrity, and some sort of follow through. If you fail to communicate intention. Then you're missing out on building trust and integrity. Therefor you lose out on the foundation of your relationship and the ability to gain respect.

So. How do we show clear intention?  A question I hear often. The answer to that is not easy to explain. We have spent our whole lives communicating through speech, and getting further away from the subtly's of body   language. In a written language It can also be hard to see true intention. Hiding true intention is something professional writers learn to do on purpose, I.E. advertisers, political writers, and story writers. We have been lied to and taught to lie in order to survive in this world we created. It becomes very hard to recognize true intention. Although it is attainable for us to acquire a better ability to understand intention. You must first Understand it, Then you will be able to recognize it, then we move on to being able to show it clearly.

Understanding intention is the hardest part. Once you get through that part, recognizing and showing it becomes easier. The dictionary gives us the meaning as 1 determination to act in a specified way  2  anything intended; purpose    This is hard to explain but I will do my best. Its something that you really have to experience. To understand intention you have to know that everything has meaning. It has a meaning  beyond what we can usually understand. Intention is something that is going to happen under the current conditions, if it is allowed to continue on that course.The intention is the intended end result. So we have to dig deeper into the truth and become truth seekers. An example could be, A scientist who studies a volcano. They are studying the intention of the volcano. Is it and /or when is it going to erupt? A lot of study goes into this form of search for intention. Intention starts as an idea, evolves into a plan, and then is carried out as an actual event. It can be a natural event like a volcano, or a physical event like a horse that just kicked you. Understand the intent and proper interaction can sometimes change the outcome. In the Volcano example you may not stop the event but you can evacuate the village at it's base.

To recognize intention you have to use all of your senses. But most importantly you have to use your Gut Feeling and your Heart as well. When we or our horses don't recognize the intention of something it tends to get us a bit nervous or scared. We may feel a bit uneasy. Learn to recognize  intention and you can relieve a lot of stress in your life. When dealing with people it can be hard to recognize their  intention. People have alternative motives. Nothing is as it seams with people. This is why Law Enforcement has professional profiler's to help catch criminals. They're trained in recognizing patterns of intention in order to interrupt and capture them. Awareness of all senses needs to be, in order to recognize intention. With horses its not to difficult to see that they are ready to run away from you as you approach them. You may be able to tell if they don't want to do something and may retaliate with a bite or a kick. Of course you need to understand their intention before you will recognize it.  Examples of not recognizing intention could be.  Some of us are afraid of Snakes, Spiders, and Mice. The reason would be, we are unable to recognize their intention. We don't understand their body language so we don't know what their all about. Most of the time they don't want anything to do with us and they run from us. But we get all nerved up cause we don't recognize their intention. Another example I would like to give is, The Volcano that erupts doesn't have the intention to destroy the village that is at it's base. Even Though that will probably happen. The intention is just more or less trying to release all that pressure. Ancient people thought it was Gods intention to punish them for their sins.  I gave that example because we misread intention all the time. Sometimes when we are ridding our horse and they act up, We take it personal and think they're out to get us. Most of the time they are acting up because they don't understand our intention, or the intention of the rock that may have just spooked them. That makes them scared or nervous so they act out. We need to be more aware and recognize it for what it is.

In order to show clear intention we must first be able to recognize it and understand it. A question always pops up when we discus this topic. How do we know we are being clear with our intention? The answer is pretty simple.How good are your results? Or. Are you getting results? This goes back to the Alphabets of Communication. The questions Why and Why not? The better your results, the clearer you are with your intention. Its something we always have to finesse. There is always room for improvement. No matter how good it is. You should never say this is good enough. Good enough for now? Maybe.

If your horse is getting all nervous and acting out, then there is a good chance you are not being clear enough. Sometimes you need to stop and re-evaluate. Sometimes, and most of the time, you need to just keep asking till you get a try, then reward by stopping. We need to be careful when it comes to relieving pressure. A horse learns our intention best when we release the pressure. So if we reward them for misbehaving and not when they do what we intend, we are not being clear at all with our intention. The best way to be clear is to start simple and advance from there. Refer back to "Building Word Recognition",, and "Building Sentences" for a better understanding.

 I will soon be transferring into more of how I start and progress through the program I use in communicating with horses, but we will always be referring back to these beginning posts. Before we do that we will have one more foundation post covering Attention and Awareness. Which was covered in brief in "Alphabets of Communication."

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Communication Builds Relationships

We've been talking about communication concepts and strategies. In this post I would like to talk about the relationship side of communication.

Everyone knows, you can't have a good relationship without good communication. Communication is the basis and foundation of a relationship. If you have been in a quality relationship for any length of time, you have probably experienced  the ability to finish their sentences. You may know what they want before they ask for it.

When a relationship is built on communication, it becomes very strong. If the relationship is solid, soon enough communication becomes very subtle. You just know. It may start with an assumption or a feeling that ends up being verified. Then soon enough you are very confident that you know exactly how they will react in a certain situation. When you have good communication and a strong relationship you end up with a heightened awareness.

The relationship part of communicating with horses is so important. A horse is a social animal. This is why they live in herds. They need to know and trust your every move and intention. When intention isn't clear it can cause fear and anxiety. The better you know your horse, and your horse knows you, the stronger the relationship becomes.

I mentioned in the last post how 2 people can use the same cue on the same horse and would work for one and not at all for the next. This happens because the horse understands and trusts the intention of the one person and doesn't trust the other. It's mostly due to a relationship conflict. You may have experienced this in your everyday life with humans. Someone has no problem doing something when one person asks but won't do anything at all for someone else. Or an idea would be considered if this one suggested it but would be totally ignored if someone else did. It's all about trusting the source. Horses and people are very much the same when it comes to this kind of thing.

Horses are not all that complicated. They understand intention most of all. We make most of our mistakes by coming in and trying to hard to not make them nervous, or we are not paying enough attention to the details of our expectations. Most of the time that shows an unclear intention which in turn makes them nervous. If we come in and just do what it is we came to do with confidence and the attitude that its no big deal, then most of the time they just go along. Of course the better the relationship and trust is, and the clearer you can be with your intention, the less likely they will be bothered  by it.

It is so important to get to know your horse. Getting to know them and not make excuses for them. Some of us allow our horses to act out in certain situations. Justifying it with,"Oh he is afraid of the bag." Instead we should show them how we intend them to respond in any situation, and not allow any excuse. In this way we improve our relationship and communication. It builds trust and a better understanding. We also prove that we understand their emotional needs. Being aware of and being able to respond to their emotional needs is something I can't stress the importance of enough. We cannot desensitize them to everything they will be scared of, but we can show them that if they just look to us for help we can get them through it. That is huge for building a relationship.  You really need that in your relationship with your horse. If you don't have it, your not safe being around them, or on their back.

In our next post we will talk about Failing to Communicate Intention, and how to be more aware of the things we may be missing. Thanks for reading along.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sentences With Transitions

In our last post we talked about building sentences and a nice strategy to build a little at a time. In this post we will talk about sentences with transitions. This would cover adding more than one intention. For instance we may teach a child what a cat is, what colors are, the difference between walking, running, sitting, or standing. Then when they understand well enough, we would maybe put together a sentence for them that may look like this. The Orange Cat is Running Through the Kitchen. A very simple phrase with multiple intentions. An animal, a color, an action, a location and a direction.

When we start with communicating multiple intentions to a horse, we want to make sure they understand each part individually pretty well before we put it all together. How I start this is after they know what  I mean when I ask each part to move. I would put together something like this. I would stand directly in front of them, point to give them a direction, say to my left. I would then ask them to step their shoulder to their right and then walk forward. After I get a desired amount of steps I would ask the front end to stop and the hind end to step to the right until they were facing me again. This sounds like a very simple exercise, but it can be pretty tricky. Sometimes we make it very confusing for the horse. If you ask properly, as long as you have done all the prep work first. There isn't a horse out there that wouldn't do this the way you intend it to happen. The problem ends up with us not being aware of what we are saying without even knowing it.

Going back to the alphabets of communication for a minute. The most important thing in this example above is that you have the horses complete attention. The better he is paying attention to you and not things around him, the better he will understand your intention. The second most important thing is that you are AWARE of EVERYTHING that is going on at each moment. That's a lot to be aware of I know. You absolutely WILL miss things, but that's OK.  The point I am trying to make is, the more aware you are the better things will go. We need to be in a constant state of evaluation. This way we can find the opportune moments to act or interact. This is how we communicate our intentions clearly. You may get nice results and think your horse understands you. But understand that understanding is relative to experience and location. You may try this same thing next to something that makes the horse uneasy and get poor results. This is how you know that they really don't fully understand. This is also why I like to do things in different locations, and under different conditions. It will help them understand better. As well as give us more opportunity to evaluate so we can have a better understanding.

We can communicate multiple intentions in many other ways. Like backing while going left and right, side passing and getting more front or back end movement, or doing a nice clean circle then stopping the hind end while turning the front end for a turn around. Just a few examples to give you an idea. We will discuss more of them in future posts. Just remember if you do any of these, make sure they understand each part individually before putting it all together.

Something I would like to leave you all with today is to not focus on the cue so much when you communicate your intention to your horse. Just as a catcher sends signals to the pitcher in baseball so they can communicate. If they want to change the signals they can. The cue is not as important as your intention. Almost every trainer has a different technique than the next. They found the best way for them to make their intention clear. Instead of focusing on how the trainer did it. Focus on why it worked and how his intention is made clear. This is what makes all the differences. You can use the same cue on the same horse as someone else and get no result at all, but it works fine for the other person. This is one of the reasons it bothers me so much when I hear a person say,"This horse isn't trained as good as the last owner said it was."  Just because they won't do it for you doesn't mean they don't know how. Its mostly a relationship thing. A horse will test you and make you prove yourself to them. If a horse don't like you or don't trust you with their life, they won't listen to you. They need to see you as a confidant leader, and a partner. Someone they respect and trust.

Our next post will cover how communication builds relationships, and why having a relationship with your horse is so important.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Building Sentences

In our past posts we have talked about some principals and concepts of communication. We've talked about building word recognition for a basic understanding of what we may be saying to them. We also talked about the horses emotions and how important it is to be aware of, and have some control over it.

This post will cover Building Sentences. Of course we will have to start with easy sentences. Just like with a child, we may teach them to recognize a dog. Later we may see the dog run and say to the child, "The dog is running." Now the child has a new sentence in their memory banks. The difference between a child and a horse is a child will only learn a few things a day, a horse can learn quite a few things in an hour. Even though a horse can learn quicker. It still has to be done methodically. We want them to succeed.

So once we can move them in any direction one step at a time. We then start building our sentences by just asking for more of the same thing. For instance if we ask them to step away from us with their front end. We would just ask them to keep going for a few more steps. We should always be aware of how well they are doing it and also be aware of ourselves to make sure we aren't confusing them in any way. When I start building sentences this is how I like to start. At first I will just get 1 or 2 extra steps. But within 5 minutes or so I will be getting a little bit longer sentence. I will do this by being aware of the progress. If I can move them 3 steps before they try to start walking forward, then I may go the three steps and stop, make sure they don't go forward, then start again. This way we don't get the forward movement. (Of course that is if you don't want forward movement.) As I go on, if I think they are ready I will keep them moving and correct any forward or backward movement while in motion. Stopping as soon as I get a few good steps. Remember to reward anything better than what you have been getting, and to always look to improve. Rewarding things like a better posture, a better response, a few steps without a mistake, or better focus on you or the task, just to name a few.These things will help them to learn your intention quicker.

Once we can do that with all the basic movements we would move to sentences with transitions. This is one of the better ways to get control of their body and their emotions. It is important to remember to not ask to much to fast, but to progress in an orderly manner. When I say to fast I mean don't skip steps. The progression I use to start a colt would allow me to get through all of these last 6 posts and move on to saddling, ridding, and out on our 1st trail ride generally under 5 hours. So its not a matter of time. Its a matter of understanding.

In our next post we will talk about introducing sentences with transitions in a way that will minimize the anxiety. We will also talk about how to deal with any anxiety that does show up. We hope you have been enjoying our Blog posts, and remember this is an interactive blog. Feedback and question are all welcome. Thanks for reading along.