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FEBRUARY 2012 THE RIDER /37 irritated or frustrated. By Lynn Palm

Building A Partnership with Your Young Horse Training Outside the Box, Part 2 tension.

Before we start training outside the box, meaning con- fined areas, such as arenas and paddocks, it is important to recognize and learn how to “read the horse.”

Any healthy, fit horse has some level of inner energy that must be released before he can concentrate on the task the rider will be asking him to do. The level of inner energy may vary between different horses and in the same horse at differ- ent times, but it is always there. It may be present in a larger dose in higher strung or sensitive horses.

Another issue that riders might face when training out- side the box is that their horse may be overly sensitive and more high-strung than usual

when taken into new surround- ings. A horse will nearly always be different in a new environment. This is especially true of horses that are not “sea- soned,” meaning those who have not experienced going to different places over many years.

Probably one of the hard- est, but most important, things to learn is how to read a horse to know if he has inner energy that should be released or if he is calm and ready for school- ing. An obvious sign of inner energy is if his ears are moving very fast and his head is mov- ing from side to side. Under saddle, the ears and head are an easy indicator to observe because they are right in front of the rider; but, when you are on the ground, you need to look closely for these signs of

We can see tension or relaxation of the horse’s mouth while on the ground and listen for noises like teeth grinding. The rider also should look for soft eyes which indicate accep- tance, while bulging eyes sig- nal alarm.

There are several other parts of the body that a rider/handler should observe to gage a horse’s state of mind. A horse’s breathing is an impor- tant indicator of his “mood.” A horse will always try to smell with big breaths before he spooks if he is unsure or afraid. His skin also communicates a horse’s mood, whether it is relaxed or tensed tight and twitching like there is a fly on it. Another obvious indicator of alarm is the horse’s tail. If he is wringing or switching it, he is

While doing a forced exer- cise like longeing, a horse will tell you if he has inner energy to release through these common signs: (1) shaking his head like he is saying “no,” (2) flicking his ears accompanied by tight or tense muscles in his neck and body, (3) drastic loss of attention, and (4) wanting to run, buck, kick up his heels, or kick at you. If your horse is communi- cating with one or more of these actions, it is important to work him to release his energy instead of simply trying to calm him down. Working him means mak- ing the horse go forward without running like a maniac. While longeing, if he starts to run out of control, put both hands on the longe line, lean back and use a checking pull, instead of a con- stant pull, to bring him back to a controlled speed and to keep his head to the inside. Make him exercise at the trot, then the walk, back to the trot, and then back to the canter. The trot should be a square trot, not a jog. Do not let your horse cross-canter (left lead in front, right lead behind). If he does cross-canter, bring him back to a trot, let him balance and get organized, and then ask for the canter again.

Let the horse’s forward motion help you to evaluate his level of inner energy. When the horse begins releasing his inner energy, his stride will become smoother. The tenseness in his body will relax. His tail will relax and swing with his gait.

Reach Huron Management Sets Course for the Future

With the first full calen- dar year of operations under its belt the REACH Huron Staff and Board of Directors have looked towards the future and the planned next stage for the organization. Two themes in particular were focused on dur- ing the recent planning pro- cess.

The first theme has to do with the REACH Huron facili- ties. The guiding documents and subsequent approved plans included the completion of all ancillary works in Phase II. This expansion was significant and included the erection of show barns, RV sites, outdoor show rings, parking and ven- dor areas. While these works are necessary for the ultimate success of the organization, access to funding has been hin- dered so the staff and Board have decided to gradually stage this work over the next several years. As a result there will be a necessary shift in the size and type of events that we can attract to Clinton. Plans for the 2012 calendar year include the completion of a portion of paddock and perimeter fencing, a start on the additional pasture ring road for participants and vendors parking and the completion of the footing for the outdoor warm up ring.

The second theme involves the planned natural evolution of staffing for the organization. REACH Huron has been fortunate to have Richard Harding as our CEO during Phase I of this project.

He led the Board through the early visioning, construction and first successful year of operations of this major chari- table organization. The Chair of the Board for REACH Huron, Larry Langan com- mented on his effectiveness: “Through his dedication and commitment we have in our community a state-of-the-art facility that is beginning to gain significant momentum in many circles. His contribution to the Town of Clinton has been significant. We are appreciative of his guidance and direction through Phase I of the project.”

As we enter Phase II, Management has made recom- mendation to move towards a more operational model for REACH Huron. Under the direction of Mr. Harding the Board is planning to overhaul the facility staffing during 2012. This has included the detailed review of each role and the shift from a CEO/Executive Director struc- ture to an Operation’s Execu- tive Director role as the senior team manager of the organiza- tion. Mr. Harding commented that: “The organization now requires a hands-on executive with a strong background in the operation of a non-profit charity as well as a good understanding of the industries we support. Given the organi- zation’s broad mandate we need more feet on the ground to raise awareness of our chari- table work and to continue the strong partnership base that we

have been fortunate to align ourselves with in the early phase of development. Rev- enue streams need to be expanded and the continued streamlining of our expendi- tures is necessary to meet our organizational financial goals.” The Board and staff of REACH Huron will sorely miss Mr. Harding, his vision and tenacity in working towards the betterment of this community and for his strong support of the equine and agri- cultural industries.

The Board is very proud of the success of the manage- ment and staff during the early development of the charity. Despite the delay in being able to complete Phase II works REACH Huron is already tout- ed as the premier show facility in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. Many of our charitable goals are being met and the econom- ic support for the community and region is on track. The community of Clinton and our many supportive neighboring communities have already seen great returns on this worth- while investment: over 30,000 people have visited REACH Huron, hundreds of thousands of tourism dollars have been spent and the Town of Clinton has seen a population increase of 1% to date.

The Board is looking for- ward to another great year in 2012 as Management has put together an amazing list of shows and events including the second Northeast Regional

High School Rodeo Champi- onship, Ontario Barrel Racing Spring Blast Off, Knights of Valour education tour, RCMP Musical Ride, Canadian Herd- ing Championships, Ontario Barrel Racing Championships and many other significant events that are either already confirmed or are in the final planning stages. The Board is also looking to continue its good working relationship with the Municipality of Cen- tral Huron and already has plans to come together to dis- cuss the next Phase of REACH Huron early in the New Year. For further information, please contact our Executive Assistant, Cindy Pryce by email at

His nostrils will flare, and the veins in his neck will pop out, even in cool weather. His head, eyes, and ears will lose their tenseness or rapid movement. When one ear cocks toward you, his concentration is coming back to you, and he will begin to respond more quickly to your commands.

When you think his inner energy is released, test your horse by stomping your feet or clapping your hands while he is longeing. If he shows any of the four signs of inner energy, he needs more work to get it out before continuing your school- ing.

Even if a horse’s inner ener- gy is released before the start of training outside the box, certain horses may become anxious dur- ing their training in new sur- roundings. If your horse’s past reactions or behaviors while schooling outside the box con- cern you, or if you are planning your first venture outside the box, take your longeing gear along on your next outside the box training session. Attach the longe line to the saddle, leave the halter on the horse over the bri- dle, and stick a shorter, three-foot longe whip in the back of your pants or some other place where

it will be safe and easy to carry. At the first signs of nervous- ness or distraction on the part of your horse, get off, control him on the ground, and longe him when you can find a safe place in an open area. Do not worry that getting off will cause him to repeat a misbehavior just to get you off his back, as this will not happen if the rider has a plan to take action. However, if the rider jumps off in fright or worry, the horse will sense it. This will rein- force his awareness that misbe- having will intimidate the rider. Remember, a horse knows what you are feeling by reading your body language. If you are worried or frightened in the sad- dle, get on the ground and take charge of the horse. Riding with a friend who is on a very sea- soned horse is a great way to help an inexperienced horse out- side the box. It will make school- ing outside safer and more fun for both you and your horse. My E-Book, Training Out- side the Box, is available online at along with my Longevity Training Tape #5, The Art of Longeing, and other valuable training prod- ucts. Or contact us at 1-800-503- 2824.

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