A letter to you, The New Horse Owner. ( Text: 3 minute read)
You must be over the moon! A new horse is such an exciting adventure and I am delighted you have chosen to share a small bit of this adventure with me.
By the time you start this course, you have most probably had your horse for a little while already... and that is a good thing. Horses need much longer than we sometimes realize to settle in to a new home and you don't want to be doing too much with him until he settles in. But now, I bet you are raring to go and really get to know this new friend of yours.
The course you have chosen is one I have designed with "SAFETY" in mind, specially around a horse you don't know too well. The best way to stay safe around any horse, as far as I am concerned, is for you AND the horse to have a clear idea of "WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT".
There are two scenarios, in my opinion, that cause a not-so-safe horse:
1. They don't know what is going to happen next so are they not sure whether they will like whatever that is.
2. They do know what is going to happen next and they know they don't like it.
If you can get very good at making "what happens next" a good thing for your horse, each time and every time, his trust will grow exponentially and you will have a safer and safer horse in your hands (.....and under you seat!)
The videos I am going to share with you in the next few lessons are "tasks": a way to put to purpose your skills so that you can practice putting to work the principles that will help you make "What Happens Next" a good thing for your horse... each time and every time.
Focus on the Principles - it is not about the Task!
These are the principles I base my training on:
1. Connection: Whatever you are going to do, connect with your horse first. Make sure he is thinking about you and ready to listen to your question before you start asking.
2. Consideration: Our horses' needs, moods and level of skills need to be considered whenever we ask something of them. They need to be capable of offering the response we are seeking (physically and emotionally)....and they need to believe that they are capable, too! They also need to feel they have a say in what it happening. This is very important.
One more thing about consideration: it is a two way avenue.... your horse needs to consider you, too. So.... don't push/pull your horse and don't let your horse push/pull you!
3. Clarity: Make sure you are clear in you mind where you are going and what you would like to try to achieve before you start asking questions. Then ask for what you would like with a "say what you mean and mean what you say" attitude.
3. Consistency: Nothing confuses a horse more that having the "what happens next" change from moment to moment. So, make up your mind about what you would like to achieve and then stick to that.... don't change your mind half way through if you can avoid it.
4. Consequence: This comes across like as "negative word" to some. I like to use it because it begins with "C" and it serves my alliteration... you can you use another if you like. The idea is, something needs to happen after the horse responds to your request, whatever that response might be.
- If you are happy with the response - praise. (Best way to praise is to "turn off the question")
- If you feel misunderstood, ask again (maybe a different way)
- If you feel horse is distracted - become a bigger distraction!
- If you feel horse is pushing on you, make your boundaries clearer (it is up to you how close you are happy to have your horse)
- ....and so on.
To summarize: whilst "doing" the task keep asking yourself:
Are we Connected? Am I Considerate? Am I Clear? Am I Consistent? Is there Consequence?
With these 5 questions in your mind,
YOU are on the way to becoming the next best thing that happens to your horse everyday!
Now go have some fun with your new horse!
With warm regards,