Wednesday, September 23, 2009

23rd September, 2009 Myths and assumptions

I go to a lot of yards where my client may be the only person interested in natural horsemanship type techniques. They find themselves under a lot of pressure to go with the majority and to justify what they do. I can't really understand what the objection is when all I am adding in is a set of ground rules on the ground and all I am taking away is the use of the whip as a punishment. I think this reveals a basic misunderstanding about what I do - if you've read just a little of this blog you'll know that I am not interested in lots of circle work or rope swinging, I'm not into dominance or submission or lots of head flexing. All I want to do is use techniques which are logical to the horse. I am not served well by the natural horsemanship label which conjures up vivid images of horses being twirled around at the end of a rope or having a rope twirled around over their heads.

This is also why I set up The Herd so that people could be aware of others who are practising IH techniques in their area. It's a quiet group with no cliqueyness.

The groundwork I do serves one purpose and one purpose only and that is to establish my leadership so that the horse can afford to relax. I don't want to make the horse sharp or worried. I only have three basic rules in any event - don't invade my space, don't overtake me and don't assault me.

The other myth is that people who do natural horsemanship don't ride their horses. I do whenever I've got time and I have been doing some fun stuff with Chancer. He now backs up between barrells over the blue carpet for instance. I am very tempted to go off and get some full Western training with him next year. I wonder if David will mind? In the meantime, it has been six months since I ordered Petra's Western saddle and it still hasn't arrived. I could cancel but then i would have to start again at the beginning.

Ridden problems represent about one fifth of the work I do. Bolting horses and spooky horses are the most common. With the first I look at pain, equipment, fear, habit and riding style to see if we can interrupt the cycle. Bolting is probably one of the most dangerous behaviours and the most scarey. With spooky horses it does often help to get on the floor and to do some serious incremental desensitisation before getting back on board. Once on board it can be repeated.