Heeding: Loading the Scared Horse

Loading a horse into a trailer is a test of how accurately the horse responds to the step cue you put on him by heeding. Trailer loading isn’t a separate skill you and your horse must learn. It’s just applying the step cue you taught your horse with basic heeding to a specific task. When the horse understands your step as an cue, meaning he is to follow each of your steps with a step of his own, you can use that cue to ask him to enter the trailer with you.

Read more

Heeding: Loading the Disobedient Horse

Loading a horse into a trailer is not a separate skill that horses and their handlers need to learn. Loading is simply a response to the step cue you’ve taught your horse through heeding. The horse that has learned to stay at your shoulder, trust your consistency and trust that he’s got your full attention whenever you’re with him. He has learned that your step is a cue for him to take a step. So he will match you step for step and walk right into the trailer. The step cues are the same and the horse’s response to them should be the same as if you were asking him to walk down the barn aisle or into an arena. When the horse understands heeding, walking into a trailer is just one step away from what he already knows.

Read more

Gender Differences: Training Mares

The first horse I ever bought for myself was a registered Arabian mare. Her name was Rafsu and after all these years I can still remember her registration number. She was one of my two favorite horses ever and she survived my early attempts at breaking her, which was how people perceived training back then. She just forgave all my mistakes and kept on being a nice mare despite everything I did wrong.

Read more

Heeding: Working In Corridors

Heeding is a horse communication system that proceeds in small, horse-logical steps that never create fear or antagonism in the horse. It requires being consistent in the moves you make around the horse, introducing just one small bite of information at a time, and making sure that new information is just one step away from what the horse already understands. Heeding builds a solid foundation that the horse and trainer can use to play reining or show jumping or dressage or any other game they decide to play.

Read more

Heeding: Advanced Ground Control

Ground control precedes horse control. If a horse doesn’t heed its handler on the ground, it is never going to listen when that person swings into the saddle. A lot of horse people mythunderstand ground work. They think it just means snapping on a lead rope and pushing or pulling a horse from the barn to the arena or from the stall to the crossties or hopefully into a trailer. One of the ways to make people think you’re magic with horses is if you can control the horse from the ground constantly and consistently for the purpose you want.

Read more

Gender Differences: Training Geldings

Years ago, I had a client with a two-year-old Arabian colt that she wanted to keep as a breeding stallion. The colt was argumentative and constantly challenged anyone handling him. I got along with him fine but he was more horse than she could handle. She was scared to death of him. The only time she was even brave enough to pet him was when I was holding him in his stall for her. She finally decided that gelding him was the best course of action.

Read more

The Training Tree: Impulsion (Part 8)

A lot of horses that intend to play the higher level games can get along in life quite nicely if they get this far on the training tree. If a horse has rhythm, relaxation, and freedom of gaits, if a horse accepts contact on both reins, can move straight, and is balanced, then that horse is farther along in his training than 90 percent of the horses out there. He’ll do OK at lower level competitions and be a real pleasure as a trail horse.

Read more

The Training Tree: Suppleness (Part 9)

Suppleness is another "mythunderstood" word in the horse industry. Suppleness simply means the ability to bend without stiffness. We want the horse to have loose, pliable joints: his hocks, his hips, his knees, his shoulders, his poll and his jaw. There are other joints that must be flexible, too, but generally when we talk about a horse’s ability to bend, we’re talking about one or another of those major joints.

Read more