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Western Style Dressage Association of Canada Elaine Ward talks about "Contact"

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   May 14, 2012 20:23
We have had a lot of questions come up about contact. What we have to remember is that we are seeking a lightness of contact. Contact as being defined as imagining you have silk threads in your hands to the reins.
Some people are concerned about the use of curbs at the lower levels. Our rules state that it is highly recommended that the curb not be used but we are also considering the traditions of the Western Style of riding.
Two handed in a snaffle, bosal, or bitless is just fine.
Two handed in a curb is optional. Again when we are trying to produce bend and flexion within our figures, it's much better to use the two hands, again we are NOT promoting pulling in any type of bit. It's much kinder to bend your knuckles to initiate position than to lean your body and pull the reins. A balanced rider will produce a balanced horse.
The bosal is permitted. Whether or not the heel knot will stay down will be relevant to how much the bosal is squeezed together by the Mecate reins. That's just plain physics. If the bosal is loose on the horses face, then it's quite easy to make the heel knot move back. What we are looking for is the willingness of the horse, and the lack of resistance.
I think we should also realize that a plain snaffle can be a razor in the hands of a Monkey.
We do not permit nosebands which can hide a lot of flaws. Whips and artificial appliances are out too.
The horse should display that it is happy and relaxed in their work. That is perhaps the most important goal of Western Style Dressage.

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dressage

Memoirs of a Horse Owner by Sam - "The word respect doesn't have a place in horsemanship!"

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   April 15, 2012 08:48

Memoirs of a Horse Owner by Sam Horsemanship ....... it is an art, a science, a tradition and a lifelong journey!www.Horseownertoday.com are a collection of my personal memoirs as a horse owner.They are about my experiences and about my understanding of horsemanship.They do not necessarily reflect the opinion of www.Horseownertodaycom.com and in some cases, they do not reflect the opinion of the majority of horse owners today.They are about my journey toward understanding a horse.

Whenever people talk about horsemanship, someone always brings up the word "respect".The common idea is that a horse has to respect its owner.Ummm.....What if I were to say that the word "respect" doesn't have a place within the art and science of horsemanship?I imagine that I would be on pretty slippery ground if I said that.A lot of folks would strongly disagree with me.But ... I am going to say it.The word respect doesn't have a place in horsemanship.

Have you ever noticed that the word respect is applied to the horse that is misbehaving in some way?It is usually said about the horse that is stepping on its owner’s foot or pushing its owner around.Undoubtedly some wise owl will take note and make a comment about how the horse needs to have more respect.

Now I don't disagree that the horse ought not be misbehaving.That goes without saying.Yet to say that the horse misbehaves because it does not respect its owner is a pretty simplistic answer to a complex problem.And worse yet, it implies that the horse is to blame for its misbehaviour.I am not even sure that a horse knows what the word respect means.And I am downright certain that they do not know anything about blame.

Perhaps we should be focusing on words like relationship and language and leadership.Those are concepts that a horse understands.Maybe the next time that a horse steps on your foot, a little birdie will take note and comment on how you should be working to build a better relationship with your horse by learning more about his language so that you can become a better leader.

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General | herd behaviour | training

Spring and Forward Impulsion!

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   March 24, 2012 08:46

 

 

Trick Training Philosophy "Train with Trust and Communication"


Trick training is a great way to foster a fabulous relationship with your horse.  In order to have a great relationship, you have to have great trust, and great communication. 

In order to make trick  training enjoyable and achievable by all, I train with grace, rather than force.

Jackie Johnson

 

Spring is a fantastic time to work on anything that requires forward impulsion!  Horses are fresh, and they already have that forward mindset, so using the energy of your horse to your advantage can allow you to get a start on the training season, and clean up some rusty cues.

 

Activities that you can work on include things like collection, lateral work, walking with purpose, haunches, in, flying changes, piaffe, passage and extended trot.  Many times throughout the year it can be a drain to constantly push your horse forward to try and get the necessary energy out of him.  Using spring freshness to burn some energy off in your favor is a great opportunity for some wonderful training sessions that leave you both feeling like you've accomplished something!

 

Never let spring deter you from riding your horse.  If you go into the ride with the right mindset, you don't have to be intimidated by your horses spring energy level, rather you can use his natural desire to work in your favor, and go forward.

Training Tips written by Jackie Johnson, www.stunthorse.com for www.HorseOwnerToday.com

Memoirs of a Horse Owner by Sam - Spooking

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   March 7, 2012 12:53

Memoirs of a Horse Owner by Sam

 

Horsemanship ....... it is an art, a science, a tradition and a lifelong journey!

 

The articles written for www.Horseownertoday.com  are a collection of my personal memoirs as a horse owner.  They are about my experiences and about my understanding of horsemanship.  They do not necessarily reflect the opinion of www.Horseownertodaycom.com  and in some cases, they do not reflect the opinion of the majority of horse owners today.  They are about my journey toward understanding a horse.

It is interesting to observe how the older horses deal with the youngster in the herd.   I think they make a significant contribution to her upbringing.  The way that they respond to her influences her behavior and shapes her thinking.  Take spooking, for example.  The youngster always finds a monster lurking in the pasture.  It could be a glove on the fence that wasn't there a minute ago or a barrel that has been moved to a new spot along the fence line or the neighbor's dog out sniffing for new droppings.  But whatever it is, she notices it and gets concerned about it.    

 It seems to me that there is a process that goes on in the herd when the baby finds a monster in the pasture.  Her spooky reaction alerts the herd to the dangerous situation.  And while she is dancing around, the older horses stop what they are doing, lift up their heads and take a look at her monster.  It is almost as if they make a decision about what they are looking at.  

On the rare occasion that they decide "yep that is a monster", one of the older ones will head out and deal with it.  That usually means that some old mangey coyote gets chased out of the pasture or that the neighbor's dog has to high tail it for home. 

Often as not, there isn't really a monster in the pasture and it is almost as if the older horses say "oh that's just a ......".  Usually one of them will nonchalantly walk up to her monster and wait beside it until she gathers up enough courage to come in for a closer look.  

Either way the youngster’s concerns are acknowledged and resolved or her comfort is restored. 

Horses are hardwired for fight or flight.  They operate out of the inherent need for self-preservation.  Spooking is about the horse's need for survival.  The youngster hasn't been on earth for very long so sometimes normal everyday things can upset her sense of security.  She relies on the older horses to help her sort through the things that are worrisome to her.   She is willing to trust their judgment. 

The idea that a wiser experienced horse plays a significant role in the training of a younger horse is not new.  Within the traditional vaquero training method, a young horse was trained alongside a wiser more experienced horse.  The vaqueros believed that the older horse helped the youngster to accept new things.  Perhaps their philosophy was based on the belief that communication occurred between the two horses or perhaps their philosophy was based on the younger horse's tendency to follow or mimicking an older horse.  Either way it was how things were done in the vaquero style of training. 

 

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Jackie Johnson on Driving using a Bucking Strap

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   March 5, 2012 12:14

Trick Training Philosophy "Train with Trust and Communication"
Trick training is a great way to foster a fabulous relationship with your horse.  In order to have a great relationship, you have to have great trust, and great communication.  In order to make trick  training enjoyable and achievable by all, I train with grace, rather than force. Jackie Johnson

Bucking Strap
If you have a driving horse, or if you’re thinking of getting into single horse driving, then a “bucking strap” could be your most valuable piece of equipment. Often referred to as “the cheapest piece of insurance you can have as a driver”, the bucking strap is a very unassuming piece of leather that goes from the top of the horses harness (on the hip, above the crupper) down to the shafts on either side of the horse. If the horse were to get frisky, or buck for any other reason, the bucking strap causes the horse to lift up the entire weight of the vehicle, thus discouraging the buck. Although the bucking strap doesn't stop the horse from kicking, it does prevent them from getting their back legs over the dashboard of the vehicle, and into an even bigger, or more dangerous situation.
 
I have personally been involved in driving wrecks where the use of a bucking strap would have prevented physical damage to both the horse, and equipment, as well as psychological damage to the horse by preventing the wreck in the first place. In action, the bucking strap is almost a thing of beauty as a reactive horse quickly discovers that the effort of lifting that back end is just too great. A valuable tool that is included on the harness of all of our young driving horses, the bucking strap (like insurance) is something you hope you never need but, in the event of a wreck, it’s sure great to know you have it.

Training Tips written by Jackie Johnson, www.stunthorse.com for www.HorseOwnerToday.com

 

The Zone of Respect

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   March 3, 2012 07:36


 

Trick Training Philosophy "Train with Trust and Communication"
Trick training is a great way to foster a fabulous relationship with your horse.  In order to have a great relationship, you have to have great trust, and great communication.  In order to make trick  training enjoyable and achievable by all, I train with grace, rather than force. Jackie Johnson


Does your horse respect your space? To determine if your horse does, or doesn’t respect your space, ask him to back up without touching him, or his lead rope. Horses who respect you as their leader should willingly back out of your space when you walk towards them and say, "Back!". If you can succeed at this simple exercise, great!!! But what do you do if your horse just stands there and ignores you? When a horse doesn't respect your space, he's actually showing you a very subtle form of disrespect.
 
We are often unaware of when horses are testing their limits, and when a subtle challenge of leadership goes unnoticed, it can quickly turn into a big problem! If your horse doesn't respectfully back out of your space, then a few sharp tugs on the lead rope, and if necessary, a physical touch on the chest help reinforce the fact that they need to give you that zone of respect. Try to avoid getting into a pushing match, rather make your corrections crisp, and meaningful. Ultimately, your goal is to have your horse step out of your space when you step into HIS space. The one who controls their space is the leader in the horse world.

 Training Tips written by Jackie Johnson, www.stunthorse.com for www.HorseOwnerToday.com

Are you creating a raving pocket monster by giving treats as a reward?

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 25, 2012 09:11

 

Trick Training Philosophy "Train with Trust and Communication"
Trick training is a great way to foster a fabulous relationship with your horse.  In order to have a great relationship, you have to have great trust, and great communication.  In order to make trick  training enjoyable and achievable by all, I train with grace, rather than force. Jackie Johnson

 

Treats as a form of reward tends to stir up passionate feelings in the horse training industry.  It seems like there are two sides to the debate, either you love using treats as rewards, or you hate it.  As a professional trick trainer, I use treats as rewards to mold my horses behaviors, where I couldn't otherwise evoke that behavior with a physical touch but, I also realise that a horse should act independent of food as a motivating factor. 

The problem with treats actually isn't the treat...it's how the handler/trainer USES the treats that CREATES the problem.  Left to its own devices, a tidbit of food is just an inanimate object, no different than a blade of grass.  When used in conjunction with training, that same tidbit becomes either a reward, or a dreaded bribe.  You can avoid creating problems with treats if you remember one simple thing....horses EARN their treats, they are NOT owed them.  Earning a treat is the same as earning a paycheque.  If you do your job, and do it well, you get your paycheque - or in the horses case, a treat.  If you fail to do your job, or fail to do it well, then you don't get your paycheque treat.  When a treat is earned, it rarely causes a problem.

So, why do some horses turn into raving pocket monsters at the mere mention of treats, and more importantly, what can you do to avoid that? When food is used as a bribe it becomes a problem, simple as that.  Some examples of bribing a horse include; 'befriending' a horse using treats to make it 'like' you, using treats to redirect a horses misbehaviour, and indiscriminately dolling out treats for lackluster effort during training.  The 'fix' for treat monsters is really quite simple!  If you decide to use food as a motivational reward, decide ahead of time what the horse has to do to EARN the treat reward, and then stick to the plan.  Once your equine friend realises that you are no longer dispensing tasty tidbits like a broken candy machine, they will change their work ethic to earn their just reward.

 Training Tips written by Jackie Johnson, www.stunthorse.com for www.HorseOwnerToday.com

Getting Out And About

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 24, 2012 07:56

 

Trick Training Philosophy "Train with Trust and Communication"
Trick training is a great way to foster a fabulous relationship with your horse.  In order to have a great relationship, you have to have great trust, and great communication.  In order to make trick  training enjoyable and achievable by all, I train with grace, rather than force. Jackie Johnson


Oh that dreaded time of year.  That time when you haven't been riding much due to the weather, and your horse is feeling frisky and fresh.  Frisky horses that have been cooped up for any length of time can be a challenge to even the most experienced horseman. If riding a horse in this state of energy seems like an unappealing challenge, consider just taking him for a walk on the lead instead!
 
Taking your horse for a pleasure walk on the lead is not something that people generally think of.  When you think spending time with your horse, that time spent generally equates to riding time.  Going for a walk down the lane, or road is an excellent bonding exercise that gives your horse a change of scenery, and exercises his mind.  These walks also allow you to reinforce your role as the leader, and assess whether or not your horse is respecting you - by walking with his head at your shoulder where it belongs.  The walks can also be 'mini-adventures' where you and your horse investigate the things that he identifies as 'spooky'.  You can gain some serious leadership points when you show your horse that the monster he is deathly afraid of is just a silly old rock, or tree, and that kind of trust, and leadership, on the ground becomes trust, and leadership, in the saddle.

 Training Tips written by Jackie Johnson, www.stunthorse.com for www.HorseOwnerToday.com

Rules, Discipline, Reward, Love by Jackie Johnson

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 10, 2012 08:56


Trick Training Philosophy "Train with Trust and Communication"
Trick training is a great way to foster a fabulous relationship with your horse.  In order to have a great relationship, you have to have great trust, and great communication.  In order to make trick  training enjoyable and achievable by all, I train with grace, rather than force.

Rules, Discipline, Reward, Love
We all love our horses but do you give your horse the love that YOU want, or the love that he NEEDS.  Left to their own devices, horses live in a complex social structure with clear rules and consistent discipline.  The horses love for routine and structure is what allows us to practice things like dressage, or reining patterns in the arena on a regular basis!  When rules are not in place, and not enforced, horses often start to develop behavioral problems, and spoiling your horse with affection might only make the problem worse!
 
Rules don't have to be difficult, they can be as simple as not allowing your horse to be rude when you're feeding him from a bucket.  How many times have you experienced a horse plunging his nose into a bucket of feed with complete disregard for you?  Here is a simple exercise; throw a handfull of oats into the bottom of a feed bucket and put it on the ground of the barn isle, or in his stall.  Then go catch your horse and bring him to the bucket, ONLY allowing him to eat the oats after you have removed his halter and said 'OK'.  The rule here, is that he is not allowed access to the bucket until YOU say so.  If he tries to ignore the rule, then correct him - Discipline!  Once your horse follows the rules, THEN he can get the oats from the bucket - Reward!  After he has learned to follow your rules, THEN you can lavish him with praise, and affection. 
 
This is a little exercise that can be done on a daily basis to improve the relationship that you have with your horse.  Although creating and establishing rules may be challenging at the start, over time it will become easier, which is a good habit for both you AND your horse.

Training Tips written by Jackie Johnson, www.stunthorse.com for www.HorseOwnerToday.com