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Understanding youngsters Trainer Tips

by sheryl lynde | horsetrader columnist C

hildren display individual tempera- ments and learning capabilities, and so do colts. One sibling may be super chill, as nothing

rat les his easygoing demeanor, while the next kid may be super sensitive, and if some- one would raise their voice one octave high- er, it might reduce him to tears. An older sister may be an achiever, wanting to please while respectively honoring your requests, while the younger brother may have some funk in the trunk—a “make me” at itude, annoyed at having to perform any task.

Sheryl Lynde gives her view on problem-solving and more

Horsetrader columnist Sheryl Lynde is a John Lyons Certified Trainer who specializes in foundation training, colt- starting and problem-solving. She is based in Temecula.

teach it; and it isn’t by doing a lot, but by doing a “lit le” regularly. This isn’t a race; sometimes, the slower you go, the more you and the colt learn. Don’t mistake willingness for confi dence.

A 3-year old was brought to me to start who was very disrespectful. The owner felt she had a willing at itude, but I disagreed. She was very confi dent, but lacked discipline. She was an 800-pound kid who knew no boundaries. She was unsafe to lead, impa- tient while being tied, and very unwilling to perform tasks that were requested of her. She is one of the more diffi cult youngsters to start because she has a lit le stink in her eye, a make-me at itude that I was referring to in the fi rst para- graph. This lit le mare could easily become a problem horse down the road if paired with an inexperienced rider, but that isn’t how the story needs to end. I am for the horse. She is only three and has a long life ahead of her. My goal is to teach her good manners on the ground and in the saddle so that I can assure her the best possible future. First I need to teach her respect for my space on the ground which begins in the round pen. Outside turns (toward the rail) pre-

Again, it is the same with colts. I under-

stand that I may be stating the obvious, but I meet numerous owners who become frustrated trying to use the same training approach on a diff erent-minded colt. We need to adjust our eff orts and

thoughts to fi t the horse. You have to decide what kind of colt you have and how best to

pares her nicely for that as well as shoulder control. If she is sour about moving on the ground, which she was, she will continue that pat ern in the saddle. If I clucked and she didn’t increase her speed, I increased the pressure of my cue by spanking her on the hip with my whip. I was careful about maintaining a safe distance from her hind-

quarters in anticipation of her displaying ut er annoyance with a kick-out at my request, which she gave me. Every time she did retaliate, I put her

to work with a lit le more speed until her indignant behavior was replaced with a willingness to move her feet. Since she is confi dent, I know I need to bring my confi - dence to the saddle with every ride. I need to be clear about what I am asking her to do for each lesson—and be prepared to change the approach when needed. More importantly, increase pressure of

each cue it is ignored. I need movement in order to train, so if her reluctance to move forward was at a level 5, my cue had to be off ered at a level 5.5—and increased in inter- vals of one second until I got the response I was looking for. If I clucked and she didn’t move, I escalated my cue by squeezing with my calf. If no response was given, I bumped with my legs, and if still no response, I spanked her hip with my reins until she moved at the speed I requested. She has one second to respond before escalating my cue. I’ve heard riders continue to cluck or kiss, and then in desperation resort to a voice command such as “come on”—but begging will only strengthen your colt’s resolve to refuse your request as she quietly smirks to herself and patiently waits for you to give up in frustration. Cluck, squeeze, bump, spank. As soon as she moves out at the speed I want, I am quiet in the saddle. If she stops or slows on her own, I start the sequence up again until eventually all I have to do is cluck and off she goes. And why? Because she under- stands if she doesn’t respond to the cluck, the cue will escalate to a squeeze, bump and spank every time. I am consistent and she is aware that this rider doesn’t give up. Consistency builds mutual respect and a willingness to comply. However; diff erent rider—diff erent horse. In order for her to thrive in life she will need a rider that provides clear consistent boundaries.


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