HORSE TRAINING: ART OR CRAFT?

Horse training is more of an art than a craft. There are rules of craftsmanship, but if you attempt to follow them implicitly or legally you will mess up and cause yourself and your horse trouble. Every horse is different (an individual) that must be treated according to his personality, strengths or weaknesses. Therefore we cannot apply the craft of training legally in the same way to every horse. We must creatively adjust our craft for each individual horse. Here is where the art begins and the difference between good trainers and mediocre trainers.

Having said this, I’d like to put a partial disclaimer on the method described in a previous blog about training a horse to move his nose away from pressure. I got the exercise from the author, Ed Connell, in ” Hackamore Reinsman ”. I really like this book and I’ve experimented with a lot of exercises it suggests. It has enhanced my craft immeasurably.

This particular exercise about running the mecate behind the cantle of the saddle definitely works. After a few minutes the horse learns to drop its nose to release the pressure on it. Horseman agree that it is essential for the horse to learn to give to pressure, especially on the nose or the mouth. This lesson stays with them. It appears to me to be especially good for horses who are very heavy headed. But I’ve noticed with my Arabs, who are generally light headed, that the exercise tends to interfere with their willingness to back up.

I am not sure why. It seems to get in their brains that with the pressure, all that’s required is for them to drop their noses, but apparently confuses the back up cues. I don’t want to pull harder to try to force a backup. So I’m stuck. This happened with both Dawn Treader and Kiwi tonight after I applied the Ed Connell lesson on both horses the night before.

It could be that I’m applying the to move away from pressure exercise at the wrong time, or I’m doing it in the wrong way, or the horses are not backing up because of a totally  different problem-like the flies are harassing them so much that they can’t relax enough to back-up. There are innumerable possibilities. The hardheaded way would be to just make it happen or get frustrated. “I must follow the great horse guru’s instructions no matter what!” No! I must work out the problem or the impasse thoughtfully, creatively and artfully.

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