Photos courtesy of Ross Hecox
How well the horse progresses in his training by getting better at reading the rider’s cues and learning responses that gain release from pressure is almost entirely dependent upon three factors:
• The horse’s mind is a critical factor, as is his willingness to accept training.
• The rider’s consistency plays an important role as he gives the horse the same pressure to elicit the same response every single time a cue is given.
• The rider’s ability to read the horse’s response and react to it is equally important as the rider quickly and con¬sistently releasing the pressure when the correct response is given.
When two people carry on a conversation, one asks a question or makes a statement.
The other person immediately answers. His answer elicits another response from the first person and so on. That’s how a conversation is carried on.
Interacting with a horse is exactly the same kind of conversation.
In order to have this conversation with a horse and make it an active and continuous line of communication, we must be able to listen to the horse’s side of the conversation and accurately read his responses. Then we can communicate back to him in a way that makes sense. Because humans are the ones with the ability to think and reason, we have to be the leaders in the conversation and also the ones who understand and respond to the horse’s side of the discourse.
Keep in mind that the horse’s reaction to people always is the result of what you have done or what someone else has done in the past. If you react the same way every time, then one time lose your temper, kick him in the sides, jerk the reins or make any action that is different than the way you’ve been reacting in that situation, you immediately have created a two- or three-week setback.
Dick Pieper is internationally recognized as a horseman’s horseman and this iconic individual has influenced and developed the careers of riders and trainers for decades. After fifty plus years in the horse industry, his name has come to stand for a special brand of arena excellence that never compromised the welfare of the horse.
For more information go to dickpieper.com
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This article was printed in Performance Horse Digest, Volume 9, Issue 1