Wednesday, 2 March 2016

More about Feel,Connection, Trust and Partnership

Jutta and Cody

The concept of feel is one of the hardest to grasp in dealing with horsemanship.  Almost every clinician refers to feel.  They often combine it with  terms like timing, lightness, connection, trust  etc.

When I first became acquainted with horses I had no idea what I was getting into.  I relied on what other horse owners told me assuming they had experience and advice which would work for me.  WHAT A MISTAKE.  When I learned the advice didn`t work I went looking and found clinicians, their books and dvd`s.  The terms FEEL AND TIMING kept being used and it took me at least 4 years to understand what they were talking about.

This  is a quote from Ray Hunt.
“You want your body and his body to become one.
This is our goal.
It takes some physical pressure naturally, to start with, but you keep doing less and less physical and more and more mental. Pretty soon, it’s just a feel following a feel, whether it comes today, tomorrow or next year.
So one little thing falls into line, into place.
I wish it would all fall into place right now for you, but it doesn’t because it has to become a way of life.
It’s a way you think.
It’s a way you live.
You can’t make any of this happen, but you can let it happen by working at it.” - Ray Hunt.

It is those last three lines that have so much meaning.

In this picture you can see the development of focus, energy, intent and feel of the horse and rider coming together.
It is import to understand the fundamentals of horse behavior and I thank Dr. Robert Miller for everything he has provided to the horse world.  This understanding has to be combined with developing your own self awareness.  If you aren`t aware of your own state of mind you will never establish effective communication with your horse. 
You need to practice three things, patience, observation and humility. You are not superior to the horse but you can be a partner to the horse. Understanding one horse does not mean you understand all horses. You must be willing to learn from the horse and to shape what the horse teaches you to develop communication, productive behaviour and an effective partnership. There must be connection between the horse and human based on trust and respect.

I learned that it can take a long time to earn the level of trust needed to build that partnership.  It is also important to know that you have to strengthen that partnership every time you are with your horse.   The partnership takes years to build and it can be damaged in minutes.  When you have that partnership, trust and confidence in each other anything is possible.

There are many things to learn in the equestrian sports and there are dozens of competent professional clinicians and trainers you can work with.  To be a horseman, however, is a commitment to way of life that incorporates the concept of partnership and it is a vital part of any program you will undertake.

A special thank you to my friend from Louisiana who generously provided the photographs.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Making Adjustments

Clinicians each have their own methods for developing communication, trust and respect with horses which ultimately leads to a desired partnership and a required performance level.   These methods are probably best demonstrated in the starting process.

Like humans, horses are individuals with different temperaments, characteristics and quirks so it is unlikely that any one consistent method will work with every horse.  It is reasonable to expect then that clinicians make adjustments to their methods to adapt to the needs of the horse they are working with.

In the 2015 Road to the Horse Competition three skilled clinicians were each challenged to start two three year old untouched colts.  This gives students of the horse an exceptional opportunity to observe how different horses respond or react to a variety of training techniques.  It  also shows how the clinicians adapt their methods to respond to the needs of the different horses.

The great advantage of DVD programs is that you can review segments to observe all of the subtle differences in the behaviour of the horses and you can see how the horseman adjust his methods to meet the needs of the horse.   As in all real time events the adjustments of the horseman are not always successful and they must make adjustments on the fly.  

For me this program is an absolute treasure of information that I could not possibly obtain any other way.  Without a doubt this is probably the best program Road to the Horse has presented and I have watched every one of them many times.