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Working through Anxiety based tension

A couple of months ago I wrote about horses with tension and how it can affect the horse and the training process. This month I want to offer a few suggestions to help the horse relax even when they get stressed out. One of the biggest sources of tension is anxiety, and more specifically the horse’s inability to deal with anxiety. Anxiety is a sincere emotion and I know many, many horses that are often overwhelmed by it. It can stem from a variety of places but where it comes from is less important that helping the horse deal with it. Continue reading

Too cold to ride.

The weather over the past month or so has as we all know been terrible. When I was younger and hardier I was happy enough to ride in all kinds of weather. Well if the truth be told I have made my living riding for a long time and maybe I felt more obligated to ride rather than happy to ride. Now I am a bit older and have become more of a fair weather rider. Or at least I am not an extreme weather rider. I used to have a cut off point at -25 degrees. I would use a hair drier to warm up the bit before I put it in the horse’s mouth. I would ride in insulated coveralls, felt pack boots, deerskin mittens, a sheepskin hat and ski goggles. I am sure I was a sight to see.
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Dealing with tension

Tension in horses can lead to all kinds of problems and hinder the horse’s ability to learn. Some horses are so tense and stiff that they are incapable of many of the maneuvers we ask of them. This can lead to frustration and anxiety that just lead to more tension.

Tension can come in many forms, physical stiffness throughout the body, choppy reactive movement and explosive behavior. Continue reading

The Evergreen horse

I taught a lesson the other day for new clients. They described their horse as being evergreen. It is a term that is fitting for many horses that don’t seem to progress. There is obviously many different factors that are to be considered when judging the progress that a horse is or is not making. The amount of time we spend working the horse, the methods we employ while training, the experience and expectation of the rider, confidence, and so many other things I can’t list them all. Continue reading

Share the responsibility!

I wrote last month about giving the horse the benefit of the doubt when issues develop. There is always a reason when things go wrong, and we have to accept at least half of the responsibility. Remember it is us that is asking for certain acceptable behavior, if we have not defined what is actually acceptable then the horse is right to be wrong.
Once horses are further along in their training problems can take on a different dynamic.
When a horse is inexperienced with no or little understanding of what our expectations are the problems are usually pretty obvious and relatively easy to diagnose if we start working backwards from where things went wrong. In the horse that is generally reliable and predictable starts to misbehave in certain predicaments it is easy to jump the gun and assume that the inappropriate action is situational. This can be the case but there might be more below the surface than you think. Continue reading