Friday, July 13, 2012

Getting Started with Natural Horsemanship

Getting Started with Natural Horsemanship
By Lindsey Forkun,

Over the June 23/24 weekend we had a get started with Natural Horsemanship clinic and learning to advance your skills clinic. The Saturday focused on learning to get really good basics with your horse.

It is really important to have really crisp, clear, and easy to understand body language between you and your horse. This is because if your horse can understand very precisely to back up, move just the shoulder, move just the haunches, move sideways, or go forward then you can combine cues to make things more advanced and fun.

Some tips to having really good basics:
- only perfect practice makes perfect: so make sure to always end on a positive note that is better than how you left it, and double check you are using proper technique
- give a long ideal cue: give your horse a long chance to notice and respond to your ideal, then add pressure quickly so your horse is motivated to respond to the ideal cue
- don't give up: have the patient persistence to keep asking and trying until the horse starts to respond the way you want
- put it to a purpose: once you have some basic understanding, start to play with your horse so that you don't become a drill sergeant

Sunday was a day when we learned how to advance our skills and really have fun with horse. This means we used all of our basic cues and then learned how to have fun with it while building better trust, communication, and respect.

Some ideas for putting basic cues to purpose:
- backwards figure 8
- backwards weave pattern
- halt halfway over poles
- go sideways over poles
- back up over poles
- do traveling circles
- go over a tarp
- push a giant ball
- follow me (on the ground have the horse stay beside you as you walk, trot, etc)

The key message after the clinic was to be aware of your body language and how to use it to communicate with your horse.

Key tip this week: Establish really good basics with your horse. Make sure you can move them in all different direction. Once you have understanding, then have some fun and put the cues into patterns like a backwards weave pattern. This helps to make it fun, fresh, different, and more like a conversation.

View pictures of clinics here:

Trail Riding Natural Horsemanship Style

Trail Riding Natural Horsemanship Style
By Lindsey Forkun,

On July 7th we had a trail riding clinic at the farm. The purpose of the clinic was to help riders and horses become safer and more confident out on the trails using natural horsemanship.

Some things we learnt to help set a horse up for a safe trail ride:
1) Desensitize the horse to various objects like umbrellas, dogs, bikes, tarps, plastic bags, etc so that the horse understands to stop, think, and wait for your cue instead of taking off in fear.
2) Sensitize your horse to the cues and movements you want your horse to react to like teaching good steering, brakes, and being able to move your horse around or over obstacles.
3) Think about Herd Dynamics so that you don't take two hot and anxious horses out on a trail, or try to make a dominant fast walking horse ride at the back of 10 person ride.

We practiced some different exercises to help horses and riders gain skills in the above three areas. Some things you can do to get better in these areas:
1) Send your horse over a tarp, log, water, and in between tight spaces like between two barrels. Practice opening and closing an umbrella as you walk away from your horse. Have someone ride their bike in the arena while you ride around.
2) Practice exercises to help your horse be sensitive to your cues like transitions, steering exercises like a weave through pylons, or riding patterns like circles and serpentines.
3) Practice riding with calm and quiet horses, and practice asking your horse to follow horses, then move into a lead position, and then fall back to a following position again. This will help your horse become more comfortable at riding in different positions on a trail, and help the horse be more calm.

Key tip this week: Trail riding can be fun and relaxing for both you and your horse, but it takes some preparation to help make sure both your and you can stay safe. Take the time to do some exercises with your horse before you go out to make sure your horse is ready for the challenges that come up on a trail.

You can view pictures at:

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