Monday, June 18, 2012

Everything Equine Trade Show - A lot to learn

Everything Equine Trade Show - A lot to learn

This past weekend, LFEquestrian went to the Everything Equine Trade Show in Uxbridge. We did 2 different demonstrations, and then a 3rd demonstration in part with the Natural Horsemanship Association. Each demo had its own message... so here are some highlights and tips:

1) Long Distance Riding - we showed how you can use natural horsemanship to make a safe and trusting horse to do trail riding with, and even to compete in some long distance rides. A big thanks to Marcie, Erin, and Micheala who helped take part in a demonstration race! We did a demo ride and tie race - Micheala and Marcie with our mustang pony Shawna won the race.

Some tips for getting a horse ready for a long distance ride:
- desensitize your horse to various obstacles like poles, tarps, and jumps, so that anything out on the trail won't seem too scary for your horse
- build your communication through ground work so your horse will trust and understand you out on the trail

2) Jumping with Natural Horsemanship - we showed how you can use natural horsemanship to create brave and calm jumping horses. Micheala and Shawna did a nice demo of an exercise you can do to build control and calmness with your horse (start with a pole at the walk. Ride a straight line over the pole, then halt, and do a pivot turn and repeat. Slowly raise the height and change your gait). Then Erin did a demo piece with Shawna showing how you can do traveling circles and make the jump part of a circle so your horse doesn't get anxious or 'worked up' about jumping.

During this demo I showed the crowd how you can help your horse jump by doing ground work - allowing the horse to jump without you interfering on their back. Instead letting the horse figure out jumping on their own. Then I challenged the crowd to create the scariest jump they could - everyone was invited to add anything to jump - hats, blankets, even a sign was added to the mix.

Thetis went over the jump on the first try - so I didn't get to show the crowd how to work through a refusal... but I did get to show the crowd what a brave horse and trusting partnership you can create with natural horsemanship.

Some tips for getting a horse ready for jumping:
- start with the walk and poles. Let your horse understand the idea of what you are doing before you add speed and height.
- start your horse over some jumps without you on it's back
- do other desensitizing and trust building exercises so your horse gets more experience

3) The final demo was with the Natural Horsemanship Association ( Laura rode Shawna dressage style, and Cindy joined us western pleasure style with Fergie. I was using Thetis. Cindy showed how she uses natural horsemanship to create a safe and trusting partnership that she uses for trail riding. Cindy showed us how Fergie can play with the giant ball, and how they use hula hoops. Laura demonstrated some ground work including going over a tarp and some riding exercises. I demonstrated some sideways over a jump and other movements.

The demo was showing that you can do lots of different things with your horse to help make your partnership better - no matter what your goals are. We showed how ground work can get your riding better, and we gave some ideas for how to get started.

Here are some tips to getting started with a natural horsemanship approach:
- Always start with your ideal cue
- Always release pressure when your horse gets the cue right (or starts to get it right)
- Stay out of a routine and stay in a conversation. This means don't just go ride your horse walk, trot, canter, change direction, walk, trot, canter - instead keep your horse thinking and communicating with you. Try different patterns like figure 8's, and traveling circles. Try tasks that cause your horse to think like halt halfway over a pole, back up over poles, sideways over a pylon, etc.

Key message this week:
Getting forceful with your horse only hurts the partnership - you can't force a horse to trust you and want to be with you. Instead you need to use leadership and communication. Once the horse wants to please you, you can do everything better together!

A big thank you goes to everyone involved to make the trade show a great day. Peter, Brenda, Karen, Marcie, Laura, Micheala, Erin, and of course my wonderful parents Richard and Annette!

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