My Training Perspective & Attitude

Over my time dealing with and training horses and my experiences with thousands horses (here in the UK I have conducted more than 4000 sessions so far), I have been lucky enough to have run across (in person as well as in other mediums) a growing number of trainers with similar training attitudes as myself.

These trainers not only want to solve problems for horses (rather than intimidate horses) but also want to teach owners to carry on in the correct / best ways with ongoing exercises and attitudes towards their horses - as well as generating true understanding between the horses and their owners and riders.

Theses trainers not only want to produce good,
 
well trained horses and educated owners, but also truly “care” about each horse “as an individual”, no matter what breed, size, color, age the horse happens to be and with no bias as to which training discipline the horse happens to have been trained.

By working with and treating each horse truly as an individual - listening to and learning the horse's point of view / current understanding (or misunderstanding) of the (our) World in which we have forced it to live in, there is a much better chance of being more effective in generating a true “two way” communication with the horse and lasting relationship.

When a horse truly believes that we are truly listening to it's replies / comments (it's tries, efforts, etc.), the horse will gain much more self confidence and believe that his best interest is being looked after and will not feel so much that he must look out for himself (acting alone) with no help from the trainer and/or rider. This aspect of communication is not all that different from humans when involved in conversations where one is talking over the other and not really hearing the other's point of view. Confusion is generally the result in such conversations and that is often the same result between horse and human. Horses, not being used to humans truly listening for most of their lives will check or test this premise from time to time and we must be patient with them as they reaffirm this.

By working with each horse as an individual whilst attentively listening and paying attention to replies (even when ever so slightly given) – the speed of the training process is often sacrificed (sometimes to the chagrin of the owner) in exchange for the quality of the result. But to the trainer (myself included) this should not matter, as a good horse with a sound mind, is much more important than having a mechanical horse with no calm / sound mind. By mechanical horse, I mean one that is doing things because, during his training, he has been forced to do them. The horse doesn't end up working because he wants to ; he does everything because he has to . The is no feeling in what he does – just a mechanical motion.

This “mechanical motion” is generally the result of the old “speedy” training methods of “DO IT NOW AND THIS WAY OR ELSE !” as well as from the over-use of mechanical / equipment based methods for control -- such as incorrectly using martingales, draw reins, double bits, etc. and the list goes on.

Trainers should tailor training methods to fit the personality (or horseanality) of each individual horse. By doing things in such a way, the mechanical feeling you sometimes get from a horse can generally be avoided. In its place, a more natural flow and genuine willingness will come from the horse.

Put more succinctly, it is forming a partnership between horse and rider.

Another important point that applies to many horses is the herd mentality requirement of having a "Firm Leader". As we humans are predators we must also include with Firm Leadership a clear understanding of "Benevolence" toward the horses as well. Therefore an effective paradox is to become a "Firm and Benevolent Leader" for our horses so that they can expect and trust us to take care of any of their fears when they are with us. With their millions of years of DNA programming they will always need some one to kill any attacking predators and we must be that protector. Our ability to redirect and control their energy and footfalls rather than confining / stopping them (holding them back) from running or moving is an important factor in that line of thinking.