The Keys to Training.
The world can appear to be filled with a huge number of differing methods and theories whatever your chosen field of interest, and the horse world is no different.
With so many methods and principles to utilise, knowing what is best for you and your horse can sometimes be a daunting choice. Add behavioural difficulties and the decision can become not only more confusing but ever more crucial to the future relationship with your horse.
Training is by no means a simple and easy task, it requires dedication, perseverance, patience and often the ability to look within ourselves and not just to the horse.
If we can first look at ourselves and adjust, the horse can respond faster and with greater connection to our training.
This begins with some things to keep in mind when training…
To begin effective training with horses we should first understand something of their evolutionary process, physiology, and psychology. This enables us to view their behaviour with more clarity and adjust training to facilitate an improved learning environment for them.
As prey animals being part of a predator’s world can be overwhelming and provoke what we might see as an overreaction, e.g. bucking or spooking for instance.
To the horse it is simply the language used to express their anxiety towards a situation or object at any given time. I don’t believe it is ever ‘on purpose’ or deliberate.
Being empathetic is the awareness of the emotional effect of our actions as perceived by the horse while achieving what it is as humans, we want from them. I would suggest that this awareness is vitally important to build trust, connection, and a willing relationship together.
When we lack understanding and empathy, we create instability, fear, and anxiety, all of which are not conducive to learning and training.
Being clear and concise is greatly beneficial to our training with the horse. The communications between one horse to another is always clear and not ambiguous in their meaning. They express themselves with clarity and as a result synchronise beautifully together.
As a trainer we would always aim to be clear and unambiguous with our instructions whether they be in hand or under saddle.
’’Every interaction counts!”
It is important to remember that the horses within the herd constantly communicate with each other and as honorary herd members we are also communicating with them, whether we are aware of it or not.
We are not just training when we are using groundwork, lunging, long reining or riding for example. Each time we lead, approach, tie up, tack up or groom, we are teaching our horse something about our interaction and relationship towards each other.
It is important for horses that we are consistent with all our interactions. If we are inconsistent the horse becomes unsettled and unsure of our intentions resulting in miscommunications and misunderstandings.
Compassion with Kindness
Compassion and kindness maybe the most important things to keep in mind…
The tremendous resilience and forgiveness horses have for humans is quite extraordinary.
They have become almost as connected to humans and the canines, they have certainly served us well through world wars and industry for many generations.
As prey animals with 65 million years of instincts to overcome, their patience and willingness towards us is magnificent.
When training we should always be compassionate and train with kindness and never with force or violence.
The keys to training using any method should begin with:
A solid understanding
Using consistency and clarity throughout
Grounded in empathy, compassion, and kindness.
From here the path to finding the keys to a greater connection with horses begins…