So now that we have graduated and received our official certification, now what? It is in many ways like any post-graduate activity, what are we going to make of it? So much material to deal with and so many great lesson plans, and actual hands on training, now we have to try to catalogue it and put it to work. This is the purpose, using it to help horse owners be safe, better understand, and utilize the potential of their horses what ever the discipline.
In every level of education the student receives something different from what was expected. In many cases they learn more about themselves than what was anticipated especially if they push themselves. The experience enriches directly proportional to the sweat produced.
The reason students come to riding clinics and symposiums
is to address two main factors, loss of control, and fear of the horse. There are certainly others, but these stand out as 2 of the primary reasons for attendance. So one of our main focuses this past 4 weeks has been safety and how to help horse owners understand the hazards surrounding horse activity and how to not only avoid them but to be very proactive in our thinking and frame of mind around horses. Horse mishaps have the potential to be fatal to the handler and even to bystanders. It is so critical that we think ahead when we handle the horse in any way either on the ground or on his back. Another main focus is the method of control, how to do it and do it well. How do you get your horse to load in a trailer, how do you give him the proper cues to move where you want him to move and when you want him to move. Trailer loading for instance is not about the trailer, it is about the horse understanding the go forward cue and obeying it, NOW.
Laurie Cote from Quebec has been so helpful in making me think about what I want the horse to DO and then making it happen. He has been a very consistent and helpful coach. When I thought I was doing something really off the mark, he would gently coach me back on track and then was supportive as I sweated through the exercise.
We learned to give the horse the “go forward” cue and have them step up onto a pedestal. This is something new for the horse and is another exercise which reinforces trailer loading. Once they get the hang of it, they will get up on it with the cue and stay there until they are given the cue to back off. By the way, horses should always be taught to back out of a trailer. Many reasons for this, but the first is safety to the handler, the horse, and the bystanders.
You will at times have to press harder than others, but you can be firm without causing a wreck. As I said earlier in the blog, it is fine to take your horse’s emotions up, just be sure you know how to bring them down again. In many cases this is exactly what you need to do. Knowing your horse and his boundaries will help you be a more effective trainer and one that is aware of a potential blow up so you can avoid it.
Like any learning process, it can become arduous, but it is never static, and it continues to build on itself throughout, so by the end of a chapter you are thinking, “…oh this is why we worked so hard on softening the nose or moving the nose to move the hips, or walking beside the fence doing groundwork so you could practice “hips in”.
The transferring of the information to knowledge is the real goal and this comes as you go over the drills over and over again. To share this learning curve with your horse is nothing short of exhilarating.
So, what was the course like and is it for you? It is very demanding if you are committed. Very rewarding if you are committed, and it opens up a whole new world of possibilities for the trainer and the horse. It is a little like eating popcorn without a drink, it makes you thirsty. This course makes you thirsty for learning more and solves many mysteries of training the horse. I must say that it also teaches you about yourself, maybe more than what you bargained for, but it is all good.
Would I recommend the course? Absolutely, if you are committed and willing to work and work hard, it is worth much more than the amount charged and you get to spend all that quality time with your horses, who by the way will be transformed by the end of the course.
So many people to thank, but let me start with Josh and Jana Lyons, wonderful hosts! Mike, Max, Nicholas, Laurie, all exceptional trainers. Steve was always there to help with the grounds, barn, or whatever else. Lindsey was in the office for all the details and to keep us in line. It was a real privilege to have these people available and on task. Of course, also my fellow trainees: Joyce Cowfer, Kat Linder, Tom Clair, and Chuck McClanahan who were all very hard working and determined to make the Cert process a great one. It was an honor to work with them all, and I wish them all the very best.
I would do it again…