Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Being Significant And Humble

As the title suggests, we can be and have significance yet be humble at the same time. It can be a balancing act. At times you may step across the line in either direction.

To be significant means we have a purpose and a reason for our actions. Give a person purpose and you will see a positively motivated individual. Take purpose away from a person and you will see a self conscious individual who is negatively motivated and may very well have a low self esteem.

To be significant, we need a task that we understand and can see through to the end. The end result becomes the motivation to succeed. When it comes to having significance to others, that's about us showing our value to them and letting them know that they can count on us and there is a reason for and a benefit to our actions.

In our Horsemanship,  we need to have significance. This gives the horse reason and motivation to learn or to try. If we are not significant, we do not put out positive energy. We tend to be less interesting to the horse when we don't strive to have or show significance. When a horse learns that there are reasons and benefits to our interactions, they become very interested in us and what we might have to say.

We need to be aware that we don't stop being humble in the process. To be humble simply means to not put our own self worth above another. By staying humble we help ward off arrogance and it keeps us from pushing off our horses interest in us and their willingness to try.

In order to show significance and yet stay humble at the same time, we need to remember that our time with our horses is always a 2 way conversation. We cannot go into their time and space thinking only of our agendas. We listen to them and address their needs. This is not easy to explain. But an example might help. If I walk into a horses pen or stall, and they bend their head as to look the other way and avoid me. I don't continue up to them. Whether I am looking to put a halter on or just walk up to pet them. If they turn away from me, they don't want me. To stay humble I give them what they want. To have significance, I plant a thought in their mind that makes them desire more from me. In this case I would move in a way that I do not get closer or further away but move in a way that pushes on the hind end and draws the eye at the same time. If the head is bent away and I move as to go around their back side without getting any closer, we push the hind and draw the eye. We plant the thoughts of interest in what we are doing "and" what do we want? Once I  have their interest, I soon have their attention and the desire to communicate further without any interest in leaving or ignoring me. In this example I had to spend a little extra time addressing the horses needs. But it pays in the long run because I  was able to stay humble in a give and take sort of a way that allowed me to show that I had purpose, reason and benefits to our interactions which shows my significance.

There are many more examples I could talk about but the point is that your horse should see that you value your relationship with them and you really are good to have around. They should see you as a whole lot more than just the feed person. There should be many other benefits to having you in their life.

So work at being significant in your horses life, and do your best to stay humble.
Thanks for reading along.

Friday, October 23, 2015


We've all used or have heard this phraze. It can be used in so many contexts. From making a situation worse to helping us move forward with motivation.

I'd like to talk about the positive side first. When we have a subject or an activity we enjoy and like to keep active in our lives,  we need to keep the passion alive or it fades out. If it fades out we loose interest and sometimes even dread the thought of it. To keep the passion alive we need to fuel the fire. By finding things that excite us and hold our interest, we can do just that. Sometimes sharing the experience with others who also like the same thing can fuel the fire. Sometimes going somewhere to see someone or to learn from someone who has more understanding or skill in the subject can fuel the fire and really fan the flames to get that fire burning. This can happen because the person with more knowledge and understanding or a higher skill level can show or bring to light things we didn't know were possible. This gives us the desire to improve our own knowledge and skill set. It becomes very motivational for us. Also if this subject or activity has a useful purpose, then by using it to help others it can fuel the fire as well through self gratification. If you feel like you have a purpose then you feel better about continuing on.

Now for what some may call the negative side of the phraze. Any time our help, hurts, then we are fueling the fire as well. Sometimes we do to much for someone and this just encourages laziness. Or we do something that just escalates the situation. I can give many examples in Horsemanship on this. One example. A lot of riders when the horse starts to get a bit unruly, they real in on the reins and hold tighter as if they can restrain 1,000 lbs of emotional muscle. The restriction on an already emotional creature just fuels the fire and fans the flames for the need to escape the situation. Most bucking and rearing problems have this same root problem. I personally have more success with emotional outbreaks by releasing the horse physically, matching the emotional energy and gently guiding and redirecting the energy. Not many can do this for a few reasons. One, they are overtaken by fear and/or panic. Or they just haven't developed a proper response, whether it be lack of practice or knowledge. Either way in these instances we tend to fuel the fire and fan the flames and making for a worse outcome.

So try to fuel the fire of desire and stay motivated and active in the things you love and enjoy doing. But also seek out knowledge and understanding so we don't fuel the fire of unwanted consequences.
Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 6, 2015


The act and proccess of communicating is something we all do every day but yet we take it for granted. Most of us only hear the words but not the message. A person trying to get a point across with out being offensive might not say things very clearly. A person trying to sell you something might not tell you the whole story.  And we all know that politicians have hidden agendas.

Many of us learn to speak different languages.  Some will learn many. We are all capable of learning a new language.  We are also all capable of creating our own secret language or code. Just read a text or a message from any teenager and you'll see proof. Every sport or specialized activities will have their own little special phrases so to simplify communication and to let people of the same activities know how well you understand this activity.

People in the horse world have developed their own bunch of codes, cues and signals to help them communicate with their horses. Most of which are pretty universal and make sense. They work well when the signal is clear and tbe horse has learned what it means. This is an example of the horse learning our language so they can understand us. But shouldn't we also learn their language so we can understand them?

Anyone who has been around a horse can see some of the basic body language, acts and expressions a horse makes to say certain things.  But how many of us know a horses language well enough, that they can speak to the horse by only using the horses language?  Not many at all unfortunately.

When I work with some people and their horses. I often get asked things like. How did you get them to do that? Sometimes when I ask them to try something, I often warn them about something seconds before it happens and they ask how I knew? Or after I tell them, I am going to ask for this. Then after the horse does it. They will say something like. I didn't see what your cue was. This is because in many cases, I speak to the horse in their own language and not through cues that I taught the horse. Sure I do teach every horse I work with all the commonly used cues and gestures used in the horse world. But when I first start working with a new horse, I want to speak to them in their own language  before I try to teach them ours. Its my way to show them that, I will listen to them, and that I can understand them. It is a much faster way to earn their respect. They learn to accept us much sooner and then they start to appreciate us.

So your all probably wondering what this Equine language is. Some of you already know part  of it is, body language and expressions.  But the real in depth secrets are through thought and energy. Often described as "Feel."  This is not very easy to explain. It really needs to be experienced.  But by knowing what you want, and applying or creating energy  in that direction the horse will go their. The same can be said for seeing  or feeling a thought the horse is having. It will soon become an action. One might say, "where will this action take place and in which direction will it go?" If you understand the thought you will know what sort of polarity the energy will have, a push or pull polarity.  Then within a few seconds it will be an action and will go where the energy will go. If we are communicating well, It is very possible to address the thought before it becomes an action.

Thought and energy can be felt from great distances. Many times a thought or energy is felt without a response.  This in most part is based on how much significance they have. Little to no significance will get little to no response. Most horses who are extremely anxious are like that because they feel energy and don't know if they should or how they should respond. We humans have a way of putting out  stagnant energy.  Sometimes we put out energy that a horse responds to, then we repremand them thinking they are misbehaving.  If you have an anxious or aggressive horse, or one that just won't respond for you, there is a good chance you are doing things like this and your horse just doesn't know what to do. A confident brave horse will get aggressive and a nervous anxious horse will get flighty one that is well balanced and in between these 2 will most often just be non responsive. But all 3 horses usually are experiencing energy they don't know what to do with.

You see we are always saying something to our horse at every moment. Just because we don't know what we are saying, doesn't mean we are not saying it. We are, and they hear and feel it. Our being oblivious to it makes them lose confidence in us. This is why we get misbehavior. If you can be more in tuned with it so you know what you may be saying inadvertently and so you can understand all the suttle things your horse is saying to you. Then your horse will start to relax around you, because now everything makes sense.

These are the things we teach people here. We don't spend to much time on methods, techniques or cues. We focus on thought and energy. How its felt and perceived, and what to do with it. This way we not only make sense to the horse but the horse makes sense to us.

If you would like more information on any of this please feel free to contact us. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Mind Controls The Body And Emotions

This is very much a true statement.  We must first have a thought before it becomes an action. Even a reflex response is a rapid firing response to a thought. Our emotions and feelings are also tied to thoughts.

The nervous system is an amazing part of all living creatures. The main control of this is the mind. Signals are sent and received by the mind. Through this we think, feel and respond. I can go into great detail on this but my goal here is to explane some communication concepts.

Anyone who has been around enough horses knows that the horse is one big "NERVOUS" system.  So if we can connect ourselves with the horses mind, we can have some control over their movements and their emotions.

A concept I like to get people thinking of is. Address the thought before it becomes an action. If we can do this. We become connected to the horses mind.  Once we get good at it, this will allow us to see, think and feel all their thoughts. If  we address the thought our response is that much more timely. If we address the action we are at minimum 5 seconds to late.  Maybe more. The only way to stay completely in front and on time is to not have to respond at all. How? By keeping the horses mind thinking the same thing yours is, all the time. By keeping the mind active and thinking with us we minimize their stray thoughts. This will minimize how often we need to make corrections.  By doing this we do less negative reinforcement and stay more in positive reinforcement.  And this will make your horse like you better. In the beginning it can be difficult. The horses attention will stray and you will have to be very diligent.   But if you can get the horses attention on you or the task it is on and keep it there. Then things get a lot easier and way better.

Another concept I like is. Get the horse to think in a direction and the feet will follow. This is something I do in the saddle, on the ground and sometimes from great distances or even when I am out of sight. This concept is not easy for everyone to grasp and understand. There are so many ways to apply it. But I am able to get a horse to go stand in a certain spot from as far as 1,000 ft away as long as I have a motivating factor.  Usually the motivator is another horse but sometimes its me if the horse really wants me to come to it. Maybe they are waiting for some feed. Whatever the motivation as long as you have one you can do this. Just get them to think in a direction and reward every thought and movement towards it and discourage any thought or movement away from it. I know I just made it sound easy. But it really isn't that easy. What will make it easy is your ability to truly know what they are thinking and your timely response to it. The example above is something I do when I have an anxious or excited horse pacing at a gate waiting for another horse, some feed or just wants me to come get them. I want a horse to not be a pest and let me come in with the other horse or feed and not be mugged in the process. Its also a good way to manage emotions in an excitable horse. Because we can ask them through their thoughts to go stand and relax in a certain spot before we come in. Being they are loose in the pen and we are outside the pen at sometimes great distances.  They have to think it before they can do it. And we can guide their thoughts like that. As I said above. There are so many ways to apply this. It applys to every situation you can think of.

One more concept I would like to talk about is. Talk to the mind and not the body. If we initiate a thought into the horses mind and let their mind move their body themselves.  Then we give them more confidence in us and the added responsibility for themself increases their own self confidence as well. By speaking directly to the mind, the mind filters out anxiety and inhibitions making the horse calmer and more relaxed. Allowing them to be more calm and natural in their movement.

So when it comes to communicating with our horses. Our thoughts and theirs need to come together on common ground in order for us to understand each other and have a respectful conversation. If we can see and feel their thoughts, we respond more timely and appropriately.  If you have ever had a conversation through messaging that had some lag time. You may have experienced questions or statements that were being typed while you were typing something else. It can get a bit messy and confusing.  Specially if we go back and read it later. This is pretty much what happens when we miss a thought and respond to an action. It can get horses frustrated and confused or nervous.  And if you miss it all together and never respond at all the horse will surely see you as less compidant and probably not trust you.

When we ride or do our ground work we have our techniques and cues that we use to communicate our intentions to the horse. What we need to remember is even a horse that knows all the cues and can do so many different things to all of our cues or special codes. They are not a machine with a simple remote control  Many of us go at our communication in this way. Throwing a cue at them and expect them to respond. In most cases it will work for you. But the horse has a mind and the mind has thoughts. Get their attention and talk to the mind. Allow them to think with you and all your cues and techniques will work better. You can take this even further by getting better at connecting and communicating mentally, only using your cues as an insurance policy when they don't respond. Of course its not telepathy.  Its a response to your thoughts and actions. But the real Suttle things will be felt and responded to. Sometimes it looks like magic and feels really good.

I hope you enjoyed this and found it informative.
Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Horsemanship Techniques

Many of us who are into horses spend a lot of time and money going to lessons, clinic, demonstrations and seminars to learn whatever we can to improve our skills. Unfortunately we put to much of our efforts into learning techniques so we can learn how to tell the horse what we are asking instead of learning how to listen to our horse and feel their thoughts and emotions.

Have you ever watched someone use a technique that made the job look easy? Then you try it and it doesn't work as well or maybe not at all in some cases?  If you ever wonder why it didn't work so well for you and it did for the other person. Its because the other person was more in tuned and aware of more things that were going on or present at the moment. What things, you might ask? Well the answer would be, EVERYTHING.   Attention, awareness, energy, movement,  location, posture, frame, emotions,  direction, ability, just to name a few. We are truly multitasking when we work with our horse. It doesn't matter whether we are doing ground work or riding.

Techniques are very abundant.  I have learned a dozen or more techniques for many of the things I do. The technique is not what trains the horse. What does is being able to have our intention clearly understood. The technique is the least important aspect in the equation.  Sure we need to have a few that we understand and can do well. But we need to be more aware of everything elses so our timing will be better. Its a conversation.  A 2 way conversation.  Listen to them and respond to them appropriately. Be aware of their thoughts and emotions.  As well as where you and your horse is and where you are both going.  If you are just going in a general direction you are just, sort of asking, or sort of guiding. We want to be very clear and very precise.  Not to be picky or demanding but to be extremely clear so they will have a better understanding of what you are looking for.

What you do and how you do it really doesn't matter all that much. And no matter what you do and how you do it, there is always room for improvement no matter what stage of understanding you are at.

I recently had a customer who was working with her horse and her horse was misbehaving.  I said to her, "you need to address that." She asked me, "what should I do." I told her, "it doesn't matter."  So now I can assume many of you have a very questioning look on your face just as she did when I said it. But really it doesn't .matter. The only thing that matters is that you address it and make sure your intentions are clear. Do whatever you think you can do at the moment that will get your point across. Sure there are better options in some cases than in others. But your timely resonce and being clear is the most important aspect.

If there is one thing that makes me frown a little its when someone says, "my trainer said when a horse does that you should do this." It may be a great technique.  But this is what i call "Gossip Training" it might not be the ideal thing to do for everyone or every horse or at that moment. And if the person using the technique has little understanding of it, then it may prove to be inappropriate or counterproductive. What the horse is saying to you should be clearly understood so you can make a better choice. But don't concern yourself with doing the wrong thing. Its never wrong if you get your point across.  I always say, "Confidently show clear intention respefully and you'll get great results."

So the bottom line here explains it all. Techniques are great ways to communicate but we need to go way beyond the technique and build a heightened awareness of everything that is going on. Work to you and your horses strengths and just do the best you can. Nobody can fault you for that.

Thanks for reading along.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The difference in leading and following

We all know that if we want our horses to respond well for us, we need to be the leader they need and deserve. 

There are many questions about leadership and many times we are trying to be a leader and end up in the FOLLOWER position.

The first question we need to ask is, "What makes a good leader?"  One answer is. The one who leads and guides the others with knowledge and understanding. The one who knows everyones strengths and weaknesses and knows the best ways to use them to benefit everyone involved. This does not mean that input from the others should be dismissed or ignored.  A true leader will listen and apply this information to its best uses. Even the most ridiculous and ludicrous of things will have purpose to a true leader who searches for understanding in it.. a true leader must also be a great follower.  Meaning at times they know that their understanding of something is not as good as anothers might be so they step back and allow another to lead for that situation. Doing this properly you can still maintain leadership and respect. Doing it poorly you could very well lose respect.

When you work with horses, they are always testing leadership. Many times you will find them putting you in the follower position to see if you can maintain leadership. If you don't recognize this and respond appropriately they will lose respect for you and you will have a hard time maintaining your role as leader. They do this in many ways. If they leave you and you chase them, you are now the follower. But if you can still guide them and control their direction then you maintain leadership. You can also go the other way so as to say to them, "you need me more than I need you." This will show them that you are a confident leader.

Another way a horse tries to switch the roles is by redirecting us or getting us to change our minds. Examples like, a horse comes into our space and we move instead of asking them to move. This tells them they are more significant than us and we lose respect..  Or if we are riding and we ask for a left turn. The horse doesn't want to turn so they brace against us and /or go the other way, so we change and ask them to turn right. In this example they changed our mind disrespectfully and we lost their respect for us. To maintain leadership we need to let them know that we will stay the course. This tells them that we are trustworthy and not flighty and that we do mean what we say. We are something they can count on.

There are so many ways a horse will test leadership. Sometimes they just won't do anything at all. Other times they go against our wishes, or they go a little faster or slower than we really want. Either way, they do it to make sure you deserve the position.  They need to know you are Mentally, Physically and Emotionally capable of keeping them safe in every situation. They also do it to make sure you know what you truly want, not just vaguely but precisely. If you can't prove this to them, some will try to take over. We really can't blame them for this but many of us do get bothered or angered by it. Instead we should look at it as a very important game of life. One in which a true meaning emerges and gives us clarity.  This clarity has been showing itself more and more since I learned to look for it. It has helped me in many other areas in my life. It has allowed me to become a better, more responsible and respectful leader.

I hope this gives you all a little clarity and you can take this information and apply in your horsemanship.
Thanks for reading.