(another off the top of my head info letter)
I have had so many questions and e-mail requesting help in training I thought I would give a few comments and my opinions - besides I love to talk horses and take every opportunity to speak my mind !
Spend time with horses you can not learn them with out hours with them. No book no couple hours a week at the stables can teach you, only the horse can teach you. Most of the time the problem starts when people put human thought process on to horses. Horses are very easy to read and understand very basic, simple really if you know how to listen and where to look. They are not complicated , have no ulterior motives and their instinctive survival modes are pretty easy to predict. I some times think I am simple minded because I find it a lot easier to understand horses than people.
1) Love really doesn't enter into a horses life that is a human evolved emotion, not that they do not have the ability for emotion but it is not love as we know it. There are a lot of other things that are more important and come first. When dealing with horses look for their respect and trust. No relationship can occur with out this.
HUMANS = Love
HORSES = Respect and Trust
2) What ever you do with your horse is training WHAT EVER YOU DO. If you want him to stand to be mounted don't let him walk off before you are fully mounted and think because you don't want to take the time today to enforce the command Whoa or Stand that you haven't just taught him something. I recommend ground work and lots of it. Your horse should know verbal commands before you start ridding. This also gives you time together. As always you are the one with the brain go quietly work and observe your horse, if you find one way of doing something isn't working try to think of another way to get the response you want. Through repetition and consistency keep at it until he stands to be mounted, and he stands still before you walk off for your ride. Lets say you are working at ground work or anything really and you find yourself becoming frustrated - stop tie your horse safely and go sit down have a cup of coffee (preferably where you can just sit and look at your horse). This gives you both time to think about it/ maybe there is a better way? This works well if your horse is trying and can't seem to get it, this does not work if your horse has just said "I hate water I won't step forward and you can't make me" In this case any forward movement is a win and make no mistake about it you must win or you have just thought him he was right he can't cross water. For trail horses it is a must that they believe you when you say to them "you can". This can be difficult with a horse whose previous owner has not instilled this in him, at this point you must find a way for you both to win even if it takes all day.
3) Foundation , Foundation , Foundation. Watch horses interact with each other . Your horse respects you if he doesn't walk over top you to leave the stall, your horse respects you if he doesn't push you out of the way to get to his food , your horse respects you if he doesn't step all over you when you are leading him. Use your body along with verbal commands to make the request more understandable to the horse. If you watch horses the boss mare or lead horse would not tolerate such actions and the others know it they watch her , they are not unduly afraid of her but they respect the position she holds, they wait for her to say it's O.K. to come to the feeder. If a less dominant horse does make the mistake of not watching or stepping into the dominant mare the punishment fits the degree of the crime and is swift and then over.You don't have to kill to discipline, a yell a clap of the hands a rattle of the lead, all are reminders. Don't make excuses for your horse . Worry less about understanding him he is not complicated . As long as the horse is trying as long as they do not commit a capital offense such as biting or kicking I do not infer a capital physical punishment. A spoiled horse like a spoiled child is a danger to himself and every body around him more over he seems angry and never seems happy because you are asking him to do things in your world and you are not taking charge and teaching him the rules to trust you.
4) Only do as much as it takes , I do not mind a scared horse but I will not tolerate a willful horse a horse that tells me "I won't do it and you can't make me " What ever the reason the horse is making this statement (usually past owner problems) is not important . What is important is a horse can not make such a statement . No is not in his vocabulary. He wouldn't bull up and say No to the boss mare , don't let him do it to you. Pressure is punishment to a horse relieving pressure is reward.
5)Try not to teach lead and feed - sooner or later you will run out of feed or your horse will not be hungry ! There is a time with young foals I want to be the best thing they have ever met and I will teach them all good things come from me . Sweet feed comes when they come to me or just for "see how good I am" Sweet feed is not a bribe to do something it is a reward for having done it .
The basics of horse training are the same for gaited horses , the trot is simply replaced by the running walk or other saddle gait . You teach any horse to stay in gait , to be collected, to work off his hind end , to flex at the pole , to not be infront of or behind the bit. You can enhance what a horse already has but you can not make a horse gait that is not genetically prone to do so. If you could there would be no need for gaited horse registries we would just teach all the QH's to gait.
Like the elephant that is thought from the time it is a baby he can not break the chain when he is older you can tie him with a string and he will not try to brake it. My point is teach your babies from the start what you ask they must find a way to comply . When they are older they will not refuse but look for a way to do what you have asked. You won't have to worry about a well trained trail horse fighting you over going that direction, he will be using his time finding the safest way to go and picking the best route. Young horses learn confidence by winning be careful not to ask to much too soon but they have to grow up and learn they can. A very old and wise gentlemen once said " Be very careful what you ask your horse to do. For once asked he must comply. I would not ask my horse to climb MT. Kilimanjaro , but if I did, we would both be out there till hell freezes over, because once you have asked you must find a way for him to achieve the request. It's up to you the rider to figure out how- even if it takes all day.
CONSISTENCY - ROUTINE - RESPECT - TRUST
and most important
HUNDREDS or THOUSANDS OF HOURS.
Some times the best thing that auction horses or "killer" horses can do is feed a good dog or a child. I agree with the gentlemen that said if horses were sold for food in this country there would be less problem horses. All your time money and resources could be better spent on a good horse and one that won't brake your back or even worse hurt your kids.
Buy Lite Shod horse's they possess the ability to gait with out heavy shoes. Don't be mislead by the term "Plantation" these are not naturally gaited horses and require very heavy shoes, bands and severe hoof angles. Make sure yours is a lite shod horse and does not require long toes or severe angles to gait. If you are buying a ride able horse ride them and make sure your butt is happy. If you are buying a foal make sure the parents are good bare foot gaiting horses. You do not want to buy tricks or gimmicks , nail on items to ride. You want a horse that has been bred to gait , once you have that train them the same way you would any other horse and just enjoy the glide ride you will get as you ask for that next gait and speed. Tennessee Walking Horses can do a lot more than just perform the glide ride they are very famous for ,folks out west have known for a long time they are easy to train and can work cattle, jump, gaming, here is a champion cutting Tennessee Walking Horse showing his stuff.
The Walking Horse Association offers Versatility points for all equine endeavors.
Al and Niki Oliver