Friday, July 6, 2012

Gemma Finished her Training - Some Things to Remember with Green Horses (or any horse)

Gemma Finished her Training - Some Things to Remember with Green Horses (or any horse)
By Lindsey Forkun,

This week Gemma completed her 3 months of training and was returned home. It was sad to see her go because she is such a beautiful and smart mare, but it is always rewarding to think about what they have learned over the last couple months.

When Gemma came 3 months ago, she hadn't had much handling other than leading into her stall for dinner time, or basic handling for the vet and farrier.

Within the first month Gemma had learned all the basic cues both on the ground and in the saddle. She knew walk, trot, canter, halt, back up, forehand, and haunch turns. She knew sideways on the ground - but not yet in the saddle. All in all she had learned quite a bit and was quite relaxed, calm, and willing too. By the end of her 3 months she has become a trail riding star - going through town, forest, field, subdivision, roads, and even leading trail rides too.

When horses are in for training, owners are allowed to watch all training for free, take free lessons with their horse, and/or participate in clinics for free too - this helps owners get to know their horse, the cues, and understand the process.

When it came time for Gemma to leave, I wanted to share some key tips for her owner to remember... and you can use them with all horses, but they are especially important for young and learning horses:

- hold with loosely on the rope: I usually hold about 2-3ft of slack... because the horse is trained to stop/back up with a wiggle in the rope. If you hold right under the chin there is no room for a wiggle in the rope. Also if you hold under the chin it is like you are trapping the horse - which shows the horse you are not a partner. Holding under the chin will also provoke a pushy natured horse to be pushy.
- use patient persistence: never give up once you ask for something, and never second guess yourself. Have the patient persistence to wait for the horse to respond correctly. If you keep your energy calm and your message clear, the horse will eventually get it and then you can reward them (or at least a step in the right direction). For example if you are riding and trying to go left, you should NEVER give up and decide "ah well it would be easier if I just switched hands and pull right" - it is important you keep on the left rein until the horse understands to go left.
- reward means praise or silence: reward doesn't mean treats, or a pat on the neck. Often my reward is just the release in pressure (i.e. I stop bugging them with the cue). If it takes the horse a minute or two to understand something, then allow a minute or two for them to think about it before asking for more or something new. You can give the horse a friendly rub... but it is really good for the horse to just be allowed time to think.
- nothing says you have to stay mounted: there is no rule that says once you start something mounted that you can't finish it on the ground. If you get on and something doesn't go right, get off, and walk the horse with you on the ground to complete whatever the goal was. Once you are both relaxed again, you can always get back on.
- start with some ground games: always start with a few ground games to see how spunky, respectful, and full of play your horse is before you go to get on. Once you have played with your horse enough to know they are calm, respectful, and ready to listen, go ahead and ride. Otherwise stay on the ground and play - it is safer than being in the saddle.

With these few key things in mind, it should be really helpful to set your learning horse up for success.

Key tip this week: Working with a young or learning horse takes a lot of knowledge, patience, and confidence in yourself. If you are working with a learning horse, learn as much as you can to help set both your horse and you up for success.

1 comment:

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