Hopefully you have read the first 3 parts to this topic and it all makes sense to you. We Talked about expectation most of all. What we expect from our horse and what they expect from us. We also talked about how if we want them to act in a certain way, we must act in a certain way in order to communicate to them what it is we expect. Here I will give a few examples of how I work with them and a few techniques I use to communicate my expectations to them. We must always remember the principles from Part 2 on providing for our horses needs. We must live up to their expectations before asking them to live up to ours. Remember, we are the responsible party.
I mentioned at the end of Part 3 about how we should use what works best for us and our horses. not what we think is the best way. I say this because sometimes our own physical, mental or emotional capabilities hold us back from being able to do what we want to properly. We must understand very well, every aspect of what it is we are supposed to be doing in order for it to work. It goes pretty deep sometimes. Understanding is the key to success. I recommend trying a few methods and techniques you may like and use what works best. If there is something you think is a better way. Work to develop it so it will work for you. But if it isn't working, because we don't understand it, then we are probably confusing our horse. If you do like it and want to use it, get the knowledge and develop the skills before you use it and confuse your horse.
There are a number of great, well skilled horseman and horse communicators out there. Most are pretty similar in their concepts. But their are so many different techniques to use. I recommend learning from as many as you can. Their will be things from some of them you will not like and not want to use. Just do your best to find the good in everyone, and you can learn from anyone. If you spend to much time looking for whats wrong with what they do. You may be missing out on some helpful things.You will also be letting hate and discontent take shop in your mind and that will effect your way of thinking and will effect your horsemanship. Please be careful of this. It is just not possible that every aspect of a method or technique will be all bad, so look to find the good. There will be some I promise you. It is important to remember to learn and understand before you try. Pay close attention to not only what they do but get right into the hows, whys and why not. Get as much understanding as you can find. It is almost impossible to get all your knowledge and skill from one place or trainer. Sometimes you need to look at it from a different angle or in a different light. I would also warn you not to jump around to much in the beginning of your learning. This will most likely confuse you. Getting a reasonable knowledge base, then starting to compare might be better for you. Always keep and open mind.
Now I can't go into great detail on what I do. You can find some techniques in some past posts like, "Getting Their Attention,"" Working With Emotions," "Communicating with Flow of Energy," and "Our Energy During Communication." I will say that I believe the mental and emotional part of communication is more important than the physical part. Respect must always be a part of the conversation. I prefer to do most of my work with the horse loose. If I use a halter and lead I only have it to help with better understanding. Same goes for the bridle and reins. I want them to follow the flow of energy. Using light contact with the lead or rein only if they don't respond. If a horse isn't looking where he should be I don't pull on a lead or a rein. If I can touch him with my hand or leg on his side. That gets him to start turning in that direction. If I am on the ground and he looks left I go right. This gets his attention and he looks back at me. If I use movement when I work I make sure they already have an understanding of an exercise. For example I don't want to start my introduction of training with running around a round pen. I prefer to ask them to stop and stand so we can have a face to face conversation. From there I start to build word recognition. We then move a few steps, turn and stop, until we have a real good foundation. The whole time evaluating how they feel, and what they think of me. Usually in under an hour they are pretty comfortable with me and we have a pretty good ability to communicate with each other. Many trainers use the round pen or a lunge line and ask them to move their feet first. It works and I used to do it myself. I find you have a better ability to work with and understand their emotions if you ask them to stay put and just work on getting them to focus on you first. Once you have that, they are more capable of reading your intention and expectations because they are paying attention. The rest becomes so much easier.
The techniques I use are least resistance techniques. This means we start out with very light pressure, whether it is assumed pressure,or physical pressure, and increase steadily till we get a response. Always stopping when we get a try. When I say least resistance, I mean focused energy first. This is a form of assumed pressure. If you have a real good connection to your horse, that will be all you need. So the process is, focused energy first, a gesture of some kind, extra energy for encouragement, then more and more till they respond or try. Always stopping as soon as you get a try. This process moves fairly quick. It needs to be done with confidence and respect. In the beginning on a horse that has no idea what I may be asking of them. I would work my way through these stages in about 10 seconds or so from the start to the response. Very quickly they learn to respond to the focused energy. A steady increase in pressure gives them a clear understanding in a respectful way. When I work with a horse, my goal is to be able to communicate with focused energy only and not have to rely on a physical cue like pulling on the lead or rein.
We hope you enjoyed this 4 part series on how a horse should behave and maybe was able to take something from it that may help you. I want to remind everyone, this is an interactive Blog. Comments and questions are welcome. Our next post will be on "Teaching a Horse to Stand Still" Someone left a comment on Part 1 about not being able to get there horses to stand still for them. A horse that doesn't stand still usually doesn't understand what you want, usually we don't know how to explain it to them. So we will go into detail on how to communicate this expectation respectfully.
Thank you all for reading along with us.