Are you a trainer?
How many conversations have been about horse “trainers”? We joke about how it seems that everyone thinks they are a horse trainer! Even professional trainers sometimes shake our heads at some who profess to be a “trainer”. Well…. while each person has their own level of ability or desire, the simple fact is this……. Anyone who handles a horse is training that horse!
This training may or may not be correct, the result may or may not be good, or the person may not even realize they are sending bad messages to the horse at all, but the fact remains that anyone who spends any time with a horse, such as barn helpers who simply need to move a horse from the stall to the pasture, the person doing this chore is, for good or bad, training the horse!
A horse’s awareness is extremely acute. The problem is the human doesn’t maintain that same level of awareness regarding the horse. Horses are paying attention to you even though you may not be paying attention to them. For example: many “trainers” stay focused in the training pen but are very complacent walking the horse to and from the training pen, or, the casual trail rider tends to drift along chit-chatting with fellow riders and NOT paying attention to what their horse may be telling them along the way. In these cases, the horse may be receiving conflicting messages from the handler/rider.
When I take on a boarding horse for training, I make it a point to be the one moving, handling, feeding, grooming and washing the horse etc. This way I know the horse is getting consistent messages. This in turn, makes the training go much better. Training doesn’t begin and end at the round pen or arena gate, training is a continuous effort. Training mode begins whenever I make first contact with the horse for the day and doesn’t end until the horse is turned out. Remember one of the basic requirements needed to successfully train a horse is consistency. If you tell your horse to do one thing in the training pen, then send a different message outside the pen by not being consistent, you are not being fair and will confuse and frustrate the horse. This will seriously affect your goals.
A good rule to remember…. anytime you are spending time with your horse, leave your mobile device in the truck, don’t engage in conversations with friends or any other activity that would interfere with good consistent communication with your horse.
If you expect and demand you horse’s absolute attention, (as you should), you must be willing to give your absolute attention to your horse as well.