Friday, 11 April 2014

Hooking On / Joining Up – Part One

The terms “Hooking on” or “Joining Up” are the first terms I heard horseman clinicians use.  I understood it to be an event when a horse first approached or willingly follow a human.  After watching and practicing the various techniques used by a lot of different horsemen I have come to believe that this not an event but rather a process.  Indeed it is one of the most important processes in building a relationship between horse and human.  The following comments are not intended to criticize the concepts or techniques of clinician horsemen; they are my own observations and thoughts about this and are offered to give a bit of a different perspective on the topic.

This was the young ladies first close encounter with a horse.  I gave her simple instructions about leading; don`t look at the horse, don`t pull on the lead rope and walk forward with purpose and focus on the spot you are going to.   She followed the instructions carefully and she was completely relaxed.  Kai has been through the hook on process and understands these human behaviours.

During many of the clinics and training DVD`s I have watched, this process is given relatively little attention.  Especially in colt starting competitions “hooking on” is usually the first and briefest portion of the event.
The following are the phases of what I see as the full process:
·       Curiosity
·       Facing up
·       Approaching
·       Following
·       Touching
·       Bonding
This process continues throughout your partnership with your horse.  It grows and expands with time and is held together with confidence and trust.  Like any partnership it can be broken if you damage that trust.

Following blogs will expand on each of these phases.

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