Thursday, January 24, 2013

Equestrian Discussions: Training Methods

"What training technique(s) do you believe in? What led you to it/them? What methods work best for your horse, and why?"

I'm no real trainer.  I mean, I work with Orion on things that I feel, and other peer horse people feel, he needs work on.  I read about things.  I get advice from said peer horse people.  The stuff I believe in goes hand in hand with what most of the people I talk to do.

The methods I've learned about most are Monty Roberts, Buck Brannaman, and Linda Tellington-Jones - mostly the first two, but I'm reading more about T-Touch when I have time.  I want to start using it more with my horse.

I know training methods have come a lonnnnng way, and most people these days seem to realize that it's best to listen to the horse.  I guess that's my main criteria. Listen to the horse.  Use his language.  Don't use fear - leadership and authority, but not fear.  Every horse is different. Different personality, different history, different preferences.  

In my experience, my horse is willing to please, but also has an extreme stubborn, dominant streak.  He's only dominant with people - I think it's because he gets beat up on in the field and doesn't have authority there, so he tries to exert his authority on people, who are obviously smaller and easier to push around.  

Because of this, he needs a firmer hand.  It's easy to want to baby him and love on him all the time, but when he's being a brat and trying to be pushy, that's not an option.  The funny thing is, once he stops trying to do the opposite of what you want and understands you're in charge, he shows what his real personality is - a loving, willing to please, laid back horse who will try try try to do absolutely anything and everything you ask him to do.  

I like to experiment and try different things I read or hear about, as well as do things that I just think from experience with him might work. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they're extreme failures.  Each time something doesn't work though...I know one more thing not to try.  When they do, I can add it to my list of Orion-tested methods that work for him. 

So mainly, from a person struggling along to learn as she goes, my advice would be to listen to your horse and figure out what works for him or her.

For Thursday, January 31st: Your choice!  Post some questions and I'll choose a couple of them to answer next week. :)