Wednesday, January 27, 2016


We all know the term, and many of us look for benefit packages before we even apply for a job. The dictionary explains Benefit as: An advantage or profit gained from something. The sad and simple truth is, nobody does anything without it benefiting them in some way shape or form.
Some of us are real selfish and there really needs to be something very worthy in order for us to even put effort into something. Others the benefit could be real simple, Like, it makes us happy to do something for someone else. Whatever the scenario, Benefits are Motivators.

I'm writing on this topic because if you understand what a benefit is, and you know how to use it in Horsemanship, (Or anything else) it can make a huge difference in the outcomes you are trying to attain.

The simple explanation is this. Make sure that what you want from them benefits them by doing it. Also that anything we do not want from them should not benefit them by doing it. That's the simple answer but some may see this as a riddle and get confused. So here's an example.

If we ask for something from our horse, we want him to get a benefit by doing it. In many cases this can be just a simple release of pressure. This example is what one may call, "A Perfect World Example" This sums up our end result for what it should be like pretty well. But many people have "Problem Horses" Not really but that is what they get Labeled as. The problems get created when the horse does something and our response makes it Beneficial for them to try it again. If they keep benefiting, they keep doing it and they get better at it with practice. We don't really want them to get better at "THIS". There are so many examples for "THIS" I couldn't possibly get to them all. I really mean it. Start putting this into practice and you will see it in every interaction at almost every moment you are with them. If you really understand this and know how to put it into use respectfully, it can change your world. Problems will go away because they will not benefit from the misbehavior. Only willing, relaxed, cooperative response will benefit them. So that is how they will behave, willing, relaxed and cooperative. That will bring you closer to the "Perfect World Example"

Implementing this might not be easy. Specially if you are not aware of what is really happening. But just by reading this your eyes will be opened to looking for it. Keep looking, there will be more to see. Once you are aware of it, it will start getting easier and you will keep finding more. The more you heighten your awareness, the better and easier it gets. Sometimes our lack of confidence allows them to intimidate us and our fear response gives them benefit to their actions. We want to be careful of this. Fear and lack of confidence is OK but we need to evaluate a way to stay safe and find a way to take their benefit away in times like this. If you find a way, then your confidence is boosted. You will have less fear because you will learn that you have some control of the situation. Sometimes they frustrate us into giving up. This they see as benefiting them as well. If they know you will quit, they will wait you out. Sometimes they try to change your mind. Like  if you want to go one way and they go the opposite direction.  Most people will give up on their way and turn the horse in the direction they want to go, circling back to where the person wanted to go in the first place. This seems like a win to most people but if you evaluate it closer you see the horse gets benefits by changing your mind. You not only lose control but your leadership is at risk and the horse will start to question everything you ask of them because they lose trust in your ability to lead. Most of the time they are doing things like this just to see your response to it. This is where you gain or lose points with a horse. They test your leadership by trying to change your mind or direction. They are not being defiant in most cases. Just trying to see if you are worth following.

As a great leader you will give benefits to receive benefits. The simple laws of karma. They apply directly here. No waiting for it to come back around. It's instant once it's established. If it benefits them to comply with our task they will. If we do not allow their misbehavior to benefit them, they will stop misbehaving. Both of these will lead to a willing, relaxed and cooperative relationship for both you and your horse. Both of you will Benefit and really enjoy your time together.

I hope you find some BENEFIT in this post. Pun intended. I wrote this to Benefit everyone who reads it.
Thanks for reading along.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Thoughts Create Feelings and Feelings Create Thoughts

It is true that what we are thinking, affects how we are feeling. You can prove this just by looking at someone who is quietly thinking and see the expression on their face. You may not be able to tell exactly what they are thinking, but you can tell what types of thoughts they are having I.E. Happy, Sad, Evaluating, Comparing, etc, etc, just by their expression.

It is also true that how we feel effects how we think. We have all experienced how what we feel emotionally affects our response in a certain situation. This is because our emotions are an instinct to help protect and guide us through life. Its the one thing in our life that we trust more than anything else in the rest of the world. We take value in our feelings, therefore it affects how we think. When we have a feeling or feel a certain way about something, we tend to see it as fact or absolute which creates thoughts in that direction. How we feel, is and should be, the most important thing to us.

Thoughts creating feeling and feeling creating thought is a very interesting thing. Understanding this its easy to see why humans are habit forming creatures. The cycle of thought and feeling can keep us in places we really don't want to be. This example here to me is the only negative aspect. You see our own conscious thought can break the cycle and redirect us where we do want to go. All we need to do is recognize it and do something about it.

When we go through our daily rituals like wake up, go to work, come home, do our chores, and go to bed. We end up following the flow, living life Unconsciously. Throughout each day our subconscious tries to interfere to help snap us out of the trance we are in. It does this by giving us a feeling or a thought  that we should respond to. Sometimes we ignore it, sometimes we respond to it.
By living our lives consciously, we can be in control of the flow. This is difficult for people who live very busy lives and for those who have little or nothing to do all day. The busy folks are to busy responding to stimulus and the ones who don't have much going on have little to no stimulus at all. But, if you make a conscious effort, it can be done by everyone. Our minds need to be active and engaged, not on auto pilot if we want to make the needed changes.

This cycle can start with a thought or it could start with a feeling. It all depends on what we have for response tendencies. Some people tend to feel more and allow it to control their thoughts. Some think more and allow it to control how they feel. Every one of us have different tendencies. One way is not necessarily better than the other. Each has its own benefits and flaws. So its good to experiment with both. Try to think of things to control your feelings, as well as practice being aware of how you feel in regards to what you're thinking. This way you heighten your self awareness and your ability to recognize, interrupt, and be in control of needed change.

This may sound like a contradiction but I  assure you it is not. Though we need to make a conscious effort, we can still let our emotions and feel take the lead. When I work with the horses, I do my best to allow feel and emotion guide my thoughts. BUT, before I go to the horse, and often while I am working with them, I use my thoughts to organize my emotions and feel responses. Being able to use both thought and feel together at the same time and letting one lead the other slightly, allows our mind to stay actively engaged. Thoughts can lead and we can use feeling to balance the thoughts or if feeling and emotions lead our mind can be used as a filter to balance feelings and emotions. We need to use them together and not leave one out completely. When I get busy or overwhelmed and forget to do this or end up just going with the flow, it affects the quality of my visit. The more I practice this, the more it becomes natural to me.

Some of the things I see to be very common. Is that most people go throughout their day and lives by responding to different stimulus. When they go spend time with their horse they do the same thing, respond to the horse. This often puts them in a follower position and the horse ends up in control. Others go in thinking they need to show them who's boss. This, if not careful, can create animosity in the horse towards them, which can get the horse challenging authority, or in many cases the horse becomes fearful and hesitant.  If we can lead with feel and emotion, we can better connect to their wants, needs, feelings and emotions. By doing this "THEIR" feelings and emotions guide "OUR" thought. When we can respond to their thoughts before they become an action,  they know, that we know, what they are thinking. This makes them trust us unconditionally. IF, IF, IF, I can't say it enough, if we respond appropriately. Knowing our end result ahead of time and not being in to much of a hurry to get there, will help us respond appropriately.  This makes us more effective as a leader because we become better informed. You can "Read Their Body Language" but then you have to translate it. That takes time, even if it is only a second or 2. By connecting with their feelings and emotions and allowing it guide our thoughts there is no translating. We also have better timing in our response because we are thinking the same thoughts at the same time as the horse. Therefore connected by thought and feel. A true partnership.

How a horse feels, controls what they will think. If they are comfortable, they have productive thoughts. If they are uncomfortable, they have unproductive thoughts. If we change how they feel about something, we can change the way they think about it. Therefore controlling the response. Learning to feel and find the line between comfortable and uncomfortable, in every situation, will help us find their best learning zone. Also, by planting a thought in their mind we can change the way they feel. Again gaining control of their response. As I mentioned above about us having our minds active and mentally engaged, the same applies to the horse. We need them mentally engaged. If they are disconnected mentally, they will be disconnected emotionally as well.  Its our ability to connect to how they feel that will get their interest in us. It starts with a little interest, and in a short time you can have full mental engagement.  In just an hour or two, you can be connected by thought and feel. Staying with it, it just keeps getting better over time. 

In conclusion I would like to see if I could get you to try the above exercises. Thinking to change how you feel and your emotional state, As well as emotional awareness in yourself, your horse or in others. This exercise will really help you. I know for me it brings clarity. It also allows me to lead with thought or to let feeling lead my thoughts and to be able to go from one to the other seamlessly at times. It will make a huge difference in your horses ability to understand you and for you to understand your horse. It will also help you in your everyday life like, goal setting, strategies to get there, and interactions with others. You won't be restricted to just one path.
Thank You for taking the time to read this.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

How Well Do You Know Your Horse

How well do you know your horse? This sounds like a simple question.  But in reality its not. When answering questions like this we want to stick to the facts and not go on assumptions. Some of us think we know our horses so well and yet they always amaze us when we learn something new about them. The truth is, there is always more to learn.

Many of us know our Horses pretty well. We know when we approach the gate whether they will meet us there, leave in a hurry, or not acknowledge us at all. Some of us know that they meet us at the gate expecting a treat or that they are truly happy to see us. Many do not know the difference. The same goes for the horse that runs off in a hurry. Are they playing games? Do they not like us or what we have in store for them? Do "They" even know why they are running?

Most of the time we miss out on the truth because we are focused on our own agenda and miss all the little nuances that tell the rest of the story. Or we guess at reasons and make up excuses 

Most of us don't even know its possible to know all the ins and outs of our Horse, so they don't even know to try. 

If we stick to facts it will help us learn the rest. For instance. 
How old are they?
What breed or breeds?
What color?
Do they have any special markings? 
What is their feeding schedule?
How much do they eat?
How much do they waste?
Do they have any tickle spots?
Do they have any favorite spots?
Do they have any "don't touch" spots?
Where is their favorite place to stand or lay down, (in the stall or their turnout)? 
Do they poop and pee in the same spot or area all the time?   
How well do they know your cues and signals?
What cues and signals do they know?
Do they have any habits, (good or bad)?
Can you tell what they're thinking without guessing?
Many many more questions can be asked.
The facts here are really whats important. The simple facts are your key to understanding. Its not important to know why in most cases. Just that it is or isn't is usually enough. In most cases, if we start looking for reasons, we often end up with excuses. A good example for this is, I was evaluating a horse at Pony Club for a girl. I noticed the horse was very stiff and not bending softly and commented on it. The girl pointed out a scare on the horses side do to either an injury or surgery, I don't remember exactly, but she said this was why he was stiff and can't bend well, I then moved to the horses hip and started to tickle the back edge of his ribs to test her theory. Wouldn't you know the horse came all the way around just as easy as could be just to see what I was up to. I did this on both sides with similar results. So her search for why became a reason and for her it was FACT that the horse was not capable of bending softly, when really the horse just learned to brace and resist. If we keep it simple, we can make better sense of it all. As time moves on, we can ask more complex questions and answer them as "Matters of Fact" as well.

Most of us are unaware of how well our horses know us. In most cases,  they know us better than we know ourselves. The reason for this is their ability to stick to the facts and not get caught up in any what ifs. They do things, then, they measure our response to it. That's all they need to know. Simple, but so effective as an instinct for survival. Just remember this. If we are responding to them, then they are in the leader role. So transition your response to them into you asking them to respond to you for a length of time that shows you they understand.  If they do that, you are going to do this until they understand. A slap or scolding that only lasts a few seconds is not very effective. But a polite ask for a turn on the haunches asking that same shoulder to move away from you after they walk into you with their shoulder, will make so much more sense to them. You may have to get assertive at times, but explaining what you want works better than a no or a punishment. 

For us. We tend to have self projected images of what we want things to be. This tends to effect our perception of reality. Its great to have a goal, but we need to realize what is needed to get there. Not just pretend we are there already. There is a big difference and many stages in between. We even tend to do it with our own self image, pretending to be who we want to be, not who we really are at the moment. We have all seen the children who are not very well behaved, but the parent only wants to believe the best in their child so they ignore the truth. WE ALL DO THIS. Whether with Ourselves, Friends, Spouses, Children, or Pets. Its not a bad thing to believe and expect the best, but it can be a problem if we are missing out on the truth. Sticking to the facts of what is or isn't can help us see the real picture.

So stick to the facts. Understanding simple facts will lead to understanding more complex facts. Done in a proper progression it can lead to an unimaginable understanding.
Thanks for reading along.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Saying Hello

Hello. Glad you are taking the time to read this. Most often a greeting or conversation starts off by getting someones attention with a simple, Hello. A simple greeting which can be said in so many ways. Such as Hi, Hey, or even What's up. All around the world there are so many different ways to say Hello. In France = Salut, Germany and Netherlands = Hallo, Italy = Ciao, China = Ni hao, Israel = Shalom, Brazil =Ola.  This is just a few, there are literally  thousands of ways to say Hello or to get someones attention in a greeting.

You might be asking why I am writing about this. I have noticed how things are done or spoken about a little differently depending on where you are and who you're with. For some, this can be intimidating.

Just as every Culture, Country, and Location has their own way of saying Hello. And it can be different even just walking into a different neighborhood. Everything else in life is the same way. We all have our ways of doing things. Sometimes it is the same way as many others, but not everyone does things or says things the same way.

In many ways we learn how others do and say things on a daily basis. Sometimes we make fun of their ways. But even so, we learn from it even if we don't want to. What we learn from it depends on how we think of it, how well we can relate to them, and how well they can relate to us. Negative thoughts bring poor results, and trying to understand brings positive results.

In Horsemanship, it is the same way. I have studied so many great Horseman, Trainers and Instructors. Though they have different methods and techniques. They are all very much the same. They start with an introduction to the Horse, a simple Hello. Though there are many ways to do this. Some try to mimic another Horse, some rope them out of a herd for a face too face conversation, and some will just watch and wait till the Horse introduces them self. These are just a few of the more common ways I've seen, there are many more. Now. A true Horseman would never talk down about another Horseman's method or technique. Instead, if they notice a problem in the method or technique, they would look for insight on what to be aware of if they chose to use this method. In this way, their thoughts stay on building up and improvement, not on discrediting or destruction. There is always something useful there. Horsemanship is about improving ourselves and our horses understanding and capabilities. The better your ability to help, (you, your horse, or others) the more of a horseman you become.

Just like you would understand someone who speaks your language better than someone who doesn't. If you choose to learn from someone, it should be someone you can relate to. Or, someone who can at least relate to you. Some times we don't know what we want or need. Sometimes we think we need one thing but really we need something else. Finding someone who can help us figure this out is very helpful. The best example I can give to this is if you have a horse that won't go in a trailer, over a tarp or walk by something (you can fill in the blank). The trailer, the tarp or whatever, is not the real problem. Most of the time its things like, They don't trust your leadership, they need help with their leading skills, or they simply don't understand the task. It can be a bunch of different things. Knowing how to ask all the important questions and listening to the answers, as well as hearing and answering their questions, will help you get to the real issues and provide for them what they really need. This all has to start with getting their attention. A simple greeting like Hello. For the Horse and the Human.

Sometimes we need to go back to square one and start from the beginning again. Most problems are caused from holes in our foundations. Kinda like jumping in on the middle of a conversation and missing out on many things that can help us understand better. So many times the problem is just that they don't have their horses attention. Many people who have been doing things for a long time, forget to go back to basics. Just because we have been riding for 25 years doesn't mean we don't need beginner level refreshments. In fact, Every time I have a new Horse or Student, or I study a new Trainer or Horseman, I start with their entry level. The main reason is that I am starting a possible new language. Just like if I wanted to learn a new verbal language I would start with a simple greeting like, "Hello"

My reasons for studying any and all Trainers and Horseman that I can are many. I want to learn as much as I can, I am always looking for motivation, and I want to be able to get the attention of a horse or a human by knowing all the different ways to start a conversation in ways they understand. This will help me hold their attention. I work with so many different people and horses its very helpful being well versed in different methods, techniques and philosophies as well as being able to apply my own take on things. It allows me to relate to the people and their horses. I can tell what methods a horse was trained with almost as soon as I start working with them, Just as you can tell where someone is from just by the way they talk and act. It all begins with how they respond to "Hello"

So many people never get started into something because they don't know where to start. I have had so many people come to an event or clinic where they feel more confident to approach me to say Hi and tell me they have been meaning to call me. Most often I can feel their reason for hesitance. I promise I don't kick or bite, I've been trained well. So for anyone who reads this, just know that you have an open invitation to contact me any way you know how. Even if you just want to say Hello, or to tell me a little something about yourself and your horse. As always I welcome all of your questions and would be more than happy to answer them for you.

All it takes is to introduce yourself and say, "Hello"  Starting an attentive conversation. Ask questions and listen to the answers. This applies to EVERYTHING. People, Horses and Things. Projects and tasks of any kind as well.

Thanks for reading along. I hope you found it useful.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


I write this post today, not so that we look at it as a must have before we go. But as a way to evaluate what needs improvement or what we may need to be aware of to stay safe. Also as a motivation for improvement.

There is always room for improvement. And something can always go sour. Many times you can tell if you are going to have problems right when you go get your horse to start your session. Sometimes a Pre-ride check will tell me not to ride, but to work on other things instead. This is usually on green horses or problem horses that have just come in for training. After the first 8 hrs or so, I use the Pre-ride to see what I should be focusing my attention on during our time together.

Many of us don't stay in a constant state of evaluation. I personally think it is very important. Being as changing behavior is relatively easy, (most of the time) why would you not evaluate what you have so you can make an improvement. Simple improvements in one area make huge differences in many other areas. To me, I feel I owe it to the horse. They are my responsibility. I need to be the leader they deserve.

For me, my evaluations start as soon as the horse comes into view or hearing distance. I am looking to know what their emotional state is. I am also looking to see if they are interested in me or trying to avoid me. Ideally I strive to have a horse calm but happy to see me. When they do see me I would like them to respectfully come to me and if I present a halter to them, they lower their head and put their nose into the nose band quietly for me. But I am happy to accept a horse that will patiently wait for me as long as they are paying attention to me as I approach and not looking for an escape root. I know what is possible to get without to much trouble so at every session I take mental notes of what can be improved on. Every session gets better and you would be amazed what 15 minutes a day will bring after a week.

Once I have my horse and we are going to get ready for our ride, I pay close attention to everything along the way.
Is he nervous or calm?
Is he lagging behind or hurrying ahead?
Is he crowding me or trying to stay or get away?
There are a few more examples I could give but the point I'm trying to make is, "If it isn't what you would like it to be, then make a change so that eventually it will be." It doesn't have to happen all at once, but you would be amazed at how just knowing what you want can make a difference without even doing anything else. Your thoughts alone bring mental energy. That all by itself can make changes in you, that will also make changes in the horse.

As I mentioned, I am always evaluating. So when I am grooming and tacking I am looking for improvement there as well. I expect a horse to stand quietly and patiently for the process. If they don't then I know I need to work on something. I know that without to much trouble at all, you can have a horse stand quietly for all this. I often bring my stuff into my herd and do it all with them loose right there. Having them coming to me, listening to my body language to position themselves where I want them, and they stand and wait for me to do what I need to do.

Again when its time to get on I evaluate how they feel about what we are about to do.
Will he swing over to pick me up or is he trying to get away or stall?
Does he stand still and wait once I am on or start to leave in a hurry?
How well is he listening to my seat aids?
How well is he listening to my leg aids?
How well is he listening to my rein aids?
All this is important because if we need 1 pound of pressure to get a response in a calm environment, we may need 3 pounds in a slightly stressful environment. Even more in an extremely stressful one. So if we can strive to get results with just ounces of pressure in a calm place, then you also have better results when they are stressed. I purposely put the seat, leg and rein aids in that order. I did so because if you can get results with your seat, then you may not have to use your leg or rein. If you do, it will be just to help them find your feel.

I often ride bareback and bridle less on Shea and Stoney. Most of the time I don't even need to use my legs. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I may need to touch or tap the side of their neck as well. If it happens that I do need more than my seat and energy, I know I need to work on that. Sometimes fixing this takes me back to when I go out and get them. That part and all other parts in between needs to be solid if bareback and bridle less is going to work at all. never mind on seat and energy alone.

So keep a check list even it is just mental notes. Try to have an end result you would like and wash the dirty stuff till it shines. You can't make improvements without trying. Wishing won't make it happen. You have to work at it. Even a little a day makes a big difference in week, a huge difference in a month, and an unimaginable difference in a year. If you strive to make each session better than the last and to try to end better than you started, then you will improve. It is as simple as that.

Thanks for reading along, and if you have any questions on any of this, feel free to contact us any way you would like. In the comments here or on the Blog sight, email, messaging, call or text. We would be glad to answer them for you.
Thanks Again.