Posts Tagged With: training horses

The Right Way

I think about this constantly. I had some interaction with a woman who was chastising me for using a wand to direct my horse around me (loose in a turn out, no round pen, no lines or ropes) as he circled me happily. She is an advocate of clicker training.

So am I. I worked at a rescue that brought in Draft mares and foals from the PMU industry. There was an aggressive mare there whose daughter was still with her as a coming 3 year old! I used the clicker schooling (marking desired behavior) and was able to accomplish a lot with the mare to make her safer and help her understand us.

I trained Saddle Seat at one point back east; I rode colts off the track aiming to make them H/J prospects while in Florida; I had a blind retired Eventer that I rode! I worked with 3 year old colts and fillies who had never seen a human being until they were chased into stock trailers and unloaded into my barn aisle! I rode most of them eventually, but it was a long journey to get to the trust.

I rode under Charles deKunffy and trail rode my own mules… there are hundreds of ways to do things with horses and all of them are correct IF they do no harm.

You know why people get adamant about a particular style of training or handling or feeding a horse? It is because they’ve had success with it. That’s all. And because many roads can lead to the same destination, many people have lots of successes. That’s very cool!


I sit here tonight thinking about how new, green horse peeps must feel confused or overwhelmed sometimes (especially with the endless information online) and wonder which is the “Right Way” with horses.

Imagine how confused and overwhelmed horses must feel by our methods! Truth is, horses are beyond remarkable. They can go from “owner” to “owner” and have to relearn or rethink what the signals and responses are from person to person. And try they do – horses want to please us!

If you are working with your horse and you are both safe and happy and understanding each other. You are doing it the Right Way.

Categories: Horse Training, joy, Saving Horses, vision | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Nasty Tasting Treats

Dharma Gita was a purebred Arabian colt (a son of the stallion Kobyashi, whom I Dressaged), orphaned at birth and raised by humans. This has its advantages and disadvantages. Little Gita did not know that he was a horse for several months of his early development. He rode around in the back, open area of my VW bus (I had 2 buses and one was not a camper, so it worked well for tiny colt transport).

8-15-2008 45233 PM

As he grew and became strong, he would test out normal colt stuff – like biting – on any available human. It was a challenge to educate him without brutalizing him. Another colt would have bitten him back, but my elderly Appaloosa (who became his equine companion) just put up with it!

One night I made herbal treats for the horses, combining things they needed as they faced the coming winter and storms. I mixed peppermint and garlic and anise seed and kelp and echinacea and all manner of therapeutic plants without considering how the combination would taste. I worked for hours and had 3 gallon jars full of them!

The next day was a disappointment. The horses hated the treats, especially Gita!

looking at you

When I offered a nasty tasting treat to him, he would take it, flemen (curl his lip up) then spit over and over dramatically. It took a couple of days for me to realize what a tool I had created. Gita was always “mugging” people for treats and being pushy with us… so, I had anyone handling him carry the nasty tasting treats. When he would mug or push or get nippy, we would just push a NTT into his mouth.

I swear, the NTT’s cured him! It was an immediate “correction” or behaviour modification, when he did the inappropriate behaviour. It was brilliant.

Swiping at him never helped (we were not fast enough to “hit” him correctly and it was like a game to him), it would have made him head shy. By the time the 3 gallons of little treats were used up, Mr. Gita was a new “man”. And, he got some healthy herbs into his mouth.

Darj and Katharine

Dharma Gita, too big to ride in the bus anymore

Categories: Saving Horses | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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