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CREATING A MODERN TRAINING PARADIGM OR BRINGING IN THE “NEW”


Do you have 30 minutes a day to


spend with your horse? If you do, you may be capable of more prog- ress than you might have imagined. Many animal behavioral ex-


perts advocate slowing horse train- ing down to actually bring faster results. An emphasis on fewer rep- etitions and clearer communication can put a horse at the head of the proverbial class. If size-appropriate equines can be taught to be service animals, we can all look at our horses with a new appreciation for what can be achieved. Perhaps in this new era of horse training we will begin to focus more on basic education and less on riding a young horse before he reaches physical maturity. Better educa- tion may actually result in less remedial training later—and fewer unwanted horses. In the special report “In Search of Your Next Trail Horse” (January/


February 2012), we covered choosing a horse for Train-Ability with regards to physical, emotional and mental at ributes. If a young horse was your selection as your trail partner, you will probably educate him with special at ention to maximizing the traits for which you chose him. Ground skills can help foster understanding and trust between


horse and human, willing obedience, cooperation and physical and mental agility.


SETTING THE STAGE FOR SUCCESS Give 30 minutes a day a try. Make a list of 10 skills or tricks you


would most like your horse to learn. Choose one skill per week and break each one down into 10 steps to make a plan that a fi ve-year-old child could understand. Teach one or two of those steps every day to your horse and in a month you will probably be surprised at your success. Want a ready-made list? Check ours below. T ese 10 basic ground skills are a sampling (just the beginning!)


of what our student horses learn. All the horse needs to know to begin is how to lead. T e only equipment you need is a working length line (15 to 22 feet) and a guider whip or other fl exible whip of about 48 inches.


SOME BASIC GROUND SKILLS


1. Forward Movement is perhaps the most important ground skill you can teach a horse. A horse should move forward willingly on a line with a cue and should not change speeds (transition) or stop until asked. A horse that is generous in his forward movement is usually easier to train than one that is sluggish. Generosity of movement can be instilled so let your horse know from the very beginning that when you ask


60 | June 2012 • WWW.TRAILBLAZERMAGAZINE.US


LEFT: Foals remember their young training lessons for a lifetime. T is foal was accepting of a blanket that was introduced when he was only a week old. BELOW: Because the dam was confi dent in climbing the agility plat orm, her foal followed her right up.


him to move, he is expected to do so.


2. Transitions or changes of gait. T ese help a horse to tune into your body language while learning to maintain and change speed or gaits on cue.


3. Change of direction. T is teaches a horse to use his eyes separately as well as together to work as directed by the handler from either side. T is also helps him gain confi dence to know he is doing the right thing as he learns to read your cues; proximity (position) and verbal cues (“turn”).


4. Yield the shoulders and 5) yield the hindquarters. A horse should easily let you direct or control what each part of his body does long before he is saddle-trained. T is will translate into easier steering and bet er balance when you are on his


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