Asking a horse to drop their head with a soft and immediate response is one of the best things you will ever train into your horse. When a horse is stressed and cortisol is running freely, the head will be high and stiff, somewhat like a periscope in some horses! In this state there is little you can do with your horse until the cortisol levels have dropped. Horses do not learn anything at all when they are in a state of stress. Also there are obvious safety concerns for the
Recently I experienced a high level of grief in my life. After three weeks away I returned home a different version of my former self. I arrived home in the evening so didn’t see my horses until the next day. I went out to the paddock in the clear fresh morning and greeted each in turn. Then I moved to sit on the ground under a tree, one of the horses ‘camps’. As I sat there the enormity of what I had just experienced overwhelmed me. The brumby Rumpy came over first to say hi
Recently a student pointed out that my work is defined by how I listen to horses. The traditional way of interacting with horses is to tell them what to do, its unidirectional communication. The human tells the horse what to do and the horse must do it. If the horse protests, then the human gets stronger and ‘shows the horse who is the boss’ until the horse does it.
This is how I was taught and this is what I did for many years. I was good at it and most horses did what I a
‘You don’t know what you don’t know’, this a wonderful expression. Sometimes we do things that hurt others because we simply don’t know. I did things that hurt horses for many years because I didn’t know. I believed what everyone told me, my teachers, my mentors, and felt that if I improved my horse skills enough everything would fall into place. I used bits, spurs and whips, and I loved my horses. I really loved them, and believed I was giving them the best life. I worked ha
Many people use positive reinforcement with horses, instead of or as well as other forms of training (negative reinforcement, habituation, desensitisation, shaping, classical conditioning). As with all horse training it helps to understand the theory behind the method.
Research indicates that positive reinforcement may be more effective than negative reinforcement, and holds many benefits for equine well-being. Horses learn quicker, retain the learned tasks longer, experien
For quite a while I have been trying to work out exactly what it is that I do with horses. I have called it Natural Horsemanship, and in the past I have studied Parelli, Monty Roberts and other advocates of Natural Horsemanship. I have definitely incorporated many valuable tools into my kit from this source but I don’t follow any particular method and do not only do Natural Horsemanship.
I have called it Science Based Equitation because I have a degree in Equine Science and
In most articles or books about horsemanship you’ll find a reference to timing. While many people are aware of the idea of effective timing the practise of it can be quite difficult to master. It’s one of those things that set the distance between a beginner and an experienced horse trainer. It can appear to be a small thing in the moment but the progression of effective training is totally dependent on it.
The single most important area where timing is crucial is the releas
Humanity has come a long way in terms of respect for animals. We now have animal rights written into our government policies and animal groups looking after the interests of those who can’t speak for themselves. I feel we are moving forward towards living in a more compassionate and caring world. But recently I had a glaring reminder of the work still to be done.
I was at an Antiques Fair and came across the piece in the above photo. This brass statue depicts a rearing hors
Here’s a good question to ask. When I am with my horse am I making it easy for my horse to succeed or difficult? Sometimes I see people making things difficult for their horse, resulting in stress, reduced learning and animal health issues due to raised cortisol levels. This can all be fixed with a slight shift in the way we think. When a horse presents with an issue we basically have three choices; 1. We can accept the issue and proceed anyway. 2. We can try and make the hor