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One of the reasons I strongly encourage horse owners to train their own horses rather than ship them away to a professional trainer is familiarity. Quite simply, an unfamiliar party will not understand your horse nearly as well as you, and this understanding of a horse is the backbone of any successful training plan.
This is not to suggest that all horse trainers are clueless individuals that bumble along hoping to do something right, because most professional trainers will take the time to understand a horse before ever thinking about saddling him and training him to ride. But all too often an impatient or inexperienced "trainer" will misread a horse's problem or intention and react incorrectly due to his lack of understanding. Too many of these incidents can prolong the training process (thereby costing you money) and potentially mentally scar your horse for life.
Far too many head-shy horses can be attributed to inexperienced or abusive past trainers and/or owners who lacked an understanding of the horse they were working with. Once a horse has developed this mistrust or fear of people it can take a good while to reassure the horse that another cuff is not waiting around the corner. And who can blame the horse? If every past exposure with a dog resulted in the dog biting you, chances are you would be very wary, if not outright panicked, by future exposures to canines.
To correct an improper action it is first important to understand the motivation that lies behind it. For example, let's say that you are training a young filly to walk alongside you to your left. Suddenly without permission the filly slams against your side, but being that she's still young it doesn't do much more than get your attention. What would you do?
1. Ignore the behavior - no harm was done after all.
2. Jab your elbow into the filly's shoulder and growl at her to remind her to respect your space.
3. Take a moment to detect the reason why the filly brushed against you.
If you selected the first option, you chose wrong. Although your heart is in the right place in your willingness to "write off" a seemingly harmless action, eventually if you ignore these things they can compound to worse problems. Your filly won't always be so small and light!
If you selected the second option you might have reacted correctly if the filly was gently asked to respect your space previously and elected to ignore the request out of defiance. In such a scenario you would need to reinforce your authority lest she view herself as being the alpha leader amongst you.
But what if the filly stepped against you because the wind was carrying along a plastic bag that startled her? In such a case if you discipline your horse you do her a huge disservice because she's not trying to be defiant or challenge your authority - she's scared and she wanted your reassurance! If you start cuffing your filly for violating your personal space she will be like a deer caught in a car's headlights; the bag to her left and the handler to her right are scaring her and she'll either bolt or become paralyzed.
Had you understood the root of her concern you could have forgiven the invasion of your space and instead showed your filly the plastic bag was nothing to be concerned about. Such reassurances would have put her mind at ease, allow her to regain focus on the task at hand and hopefully become desensitized towards future encounters with plastic bags.
A trainer that believed in the "one size fits all" philosophy would probably have chosen option two in the above scenario since at face value that would be the correct reaction, but without understanding the horse or the motivation behind her action his "correction" would have further compounded the problem. It is essential a handler take the time to understand a horse's behavior before attempting to correct it since one size most definitely does not fit all. And who would better understand your horse than you?
In addition the training process does not have to be the stressful battle of wills that most of us initially believe it to be. Taken slowly, both the horse and the owner can actually look forward to advancing along the lesson plan. As the owner and horse work together, each will develop an even better understanding of the other's mannerisms, personality and expectations? and with understanding comes success.
Jeffrey Rolo, owner of AlphaHorse and an experienced horse trainer and breeder, is the author of the above article. You will find many other informational articles dealing with horse training and care as well as games and other horse fun on his website: http://www.alphahorse.com
Pet Pals: Therapy pets
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Americans spending big bucks on pets this holiday season, study says
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Photos: Pets, owners reunited following deadly and destructive Camp Fire
The Camp Fire, the most deadly and destructive wildfire in California history, has destroyed hundreds of homes, put thousands of lives at risk and separated pets from their owners. People have been using social media to look for and share images of ...
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How to Protect Your Pets From Wildfire Smoke
Use an air purifier. If you don't have one that can handle a whole home's worth of air, put it in the room your pets spend the most time in (or move your pets to the room with the filter). If your pet needs to go outside, limit the amount of time they ...
Facial Recognition...For Pets?
(WFLA) Florida's Pasco County Animal Services is turning to facial recognition software to help bring more lost pets home. Starting this week, every pet that comes into the shelter will be scanned into the Finding Rover database. Finding Rover is a ...
Presenting the Top 10 Pet-Friendly Airports in the US, Just in Time for the Holidays
As the holiday season approaches like a fast-moving snowstorm, people the world over are making travel plans to visit family and friends. Often included in these travel plans are our furry comrades; pets we can't bear to leave behind for a holiday ...
Lubbock Animal Shelter asking for donations to help pets of homeless people
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The Lubbock Animal Shelter is accepting donations of food, toys and blankets to help local homeless pet owners. This time of year local charities feed the homeless, and the shelter wants to make sure that that food is used to feed ...
Shelter Pets To Go! Meet Dorothy, Jezebel, Ziggy and Jasper
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KHS waives adoption fee for black pets on Black Friday
All black and mostly black pets will be FREE to adopt on Friday, November 23 from 10 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. or until the last animal is adopted (whichever is first). All other pets will be $25. KHS says future pet owners should arrive early and expect longer ...
Black pets free at Kansas Humane Society on Black Friday
Adopt A Senior Pet Month: Exploring perks attached to adopting senior pets
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