At every one of my clinics, the first question that I ask my participants when it is their turn is to please introduce themselves, their horse, and what their equine goal is. What I really mean by that is for the participant to tell me their name, their horse’s name, and what their desired goal is for that particular horse. I want them to tell me their hopes, their wants, and their dreams for that horse to make it into the horse that they want it to be. However, what I usually get is the person’s name, the horse’s ENTIRE history from day one of its birth including, but not limited to, age, breed, rescue status, past owners, past injuries, list of sensitivities and vices, etc., and then one small goal for that horse.
Do you guys want to know a secret??? I don’t care about the horse’s past. I don’t care about what the horse does or doesn’t like, what they are afraid of, or how many people that they have hurt during previous training. I don’t care if the horse bucks, bites, kicks, rears, strikes, etc. The horse tells me everything that I need to know as soon as I start working on them. And most importantly, I don’t treat the horse like the horse that they are. Treat a horse like the horse they are, and they will forever be that horse. I treat the horse like the horse that I want it to be! If you automatically start working a horse with the preconceived notion that they are going to do all of these horrible things or that they aren’t going to like it, you are subconsciously affecting that horse already from the very beginning of training and setting them up for failure. You have to set that horse up for success! As a trainer or rider, you must go into each and every training session being calm and confident that you are going to make positive progress with that horse each and every day.
The progress with every horse is going to vary, even though they all speak the same language. I’m not breed racist and by that, I mean I don’t care if your horses is a Paso, Arabian, Quarter Horse, wild Mustang, draft horse, pony, or any other breed. I’m going to take every breed of horse that comes to a clinic or into my training program through the same process. The amount of pressure needed to get the desired results will vary between horses whether they are hot or “sensitive”, cold or “dull”. My goal is to see progress in every session, even if it’s only one percent. Putting that in perspective, at the end of working a horse 100 days, that’s going to give you a 100% better horse than what you had, making the bare minimum progress each day. If you are having training sessions and not making any progress, you are doing something wrong. The more clearly you can present what you’re teaching to the horse, the quicker they are going to understand, learn from it, and then be able to move forward. The difference between three different trainers, one who gets the job done in 1 month, 6 months, or 2 years, is the clarity in which they present the information to that horse for them to understand. None of these systems are wrong, the first trainer has just been able to create crystal clear communication with their horse.
All too often I see that the trainer or rider is the horse’s biggest limit to their success. Society has put the standard that you must do this for 10 days, you must do that for 30 days, etc. This is my biggest problem with today’s society even outside of the horse world. Why should a student who can pass a grade on day #1, spend any ENTIRE year of their life wasted in that grade? I’m not going to limit a horse. If they can pass each of my grade levels, starting in Preschool, then I immediately move to the next level. When I’m working 10 different horses at a clinic, this could mean that one horse may spend a half an hour just learning how to have respect in Kindergarten versus another horse that may pass through all of the grades and be under saddle working on advanced maneuvers after only 10 minutes. If they can pass the test, I’m ready to let them reach their full potential with each and every step of my program towards the rider’s goal and becoming the horse that we want them to be!