Sunday, 19 April 2015

Hooking On - Part 2

There is one important thing to consider about the human and and the horse when first making contact.  Is the horse and/or the human green or experienced?

A green human is not familiar with horses in general and/or this horse in particular.  The same is true for the horse.   As the experience level increases the time required to obtain desired results will shorten but the steps to get to the result are always there.

One of the most important things for the human is to be self aware.  You must be fully in touch with your emotions and and your physical expression.  Horses are masters at reading body language and if you think you can fool them you are going to learn very quickly that you are wrong.

On entering the paddock the first objective is to get the horses attention.  This is usually quite easy because horses are extremely observant.

The next objective is to get the horse to focus on you through movement, expression and focus.  At first (green stage) this may be quite exaggerated and very obvious to an observer.  With  experience it becomes very subtle and imperceptible to a casual observer.  The exaggerated stage is like shouting at a horse, and that is exactly how they perceive it.

The next step is to get the horse to face you and then to move towards you.  Again  initially (the green phase) this will take time and the movement may be only a small step.  That small step must be recognized and rewarded by release of pressure.  The recognition of the smallest try by the horse is one of the hardest things to master, but it is critical to your success.   Eventually the horse will follow the human and finally allow the human to get close enough to have physical contact.  This contact should be the horse’s idea and will usually be a nose touch to the back of the hand.  Immediate reward by looking away and moving away is important at this stage.  Don`t get impatient and try to get more RIGHT NOW!  This event is usually called hooking on and can be achieved by experienced horsemen within a few minutes (30).  There are many excellent DVD`s produced by professional horsemen who demonstrate this process in great detail.   Another great source of information is the Road to the Horse event.  The DVD`s from this event, especially the first day of the competition will give you examples of different horses and different techniques.  I highly recommend these learning resources to both green and experienced horse people.

The next objective is to have the horse stay with you while you put a halter him.  When you accomplish this you have only reached the first threshold of hooking on.