Friday, November 14, 2008

Horse to Human-Horse to Human! I am BORED!!!!!

There are some horses out there in the world who will go in circles for you for hours and hours on end. And then there is the Horse who will eventually get so bored with your lack of creativity and prove it to you in the form of a buck, balk, kick out, or paw. Wouldn't it be nice if our horses came with a damn manual!! LOL!!! Well since they don't that means it's our job to figure these brilliant creatures out ourselves! However it's only as difficult as WE make it. Remember CLARITY and CREATIVITY are the Key!

The Bored horse=trainer/rider step up your game and your brain!

You know it's funny I seem to run into these horses more and more, or maybe it's that I'm just more tuned into their reactions now. It used to be for your lesson you rode your horse around the arena, changed directions and then got off and were done. Now I feel as though is we mentally step outside the training box and really put ourselves where our horses are, we can see how dull and droll that would really be.

Think of the horse as a young child. Hungry and very eager to learn, but gets bored easily. So it's up to us to mix our lessons up while still aiming at the same goal. Here's an example; let's say you want to start teaching your horse to move off your leg pressure. So instead of just practicing it in a bare bones arena with your leg pressing into the horses side, make games of it, give the horse something to think about in away that associates your lesson with some "new." Use barrels, cones, ground poles, go out on the trail and have the horse move away from bushes, trees, whatever. Make the lesson fun and interesting. This will also prevent YOU from getting bored as well.

I've also noticed that when you do actually keep your horse active and thinking, that they're more inclined to actually RETAIN the lessons you are teaching. Horses DO appreciate some form of routine, but they appreciate jazzed up riding sessions more! It clears their mind, refreshes them, and doesn't make them arena sour. With horses it's really important to keep everything in a positive light so they don't start to dread work time. Plus you can school a horse anywhere you choose, trails, round pen, arena, new arena and more.

It's so important for us to really put ourselves in the horses aluminum shoes for a minute, especially when trying to come up with NEW training ideas. Some horses can really sassy when bored and start to react negatively to your riding, then we punish them and they get angrier and more frustrated and so and so forth. It's a fight that could've totally been avoided. Others ways to retain the horse interest is do something WAY off base for them. Western pleasure horse? Teach them to jump small cross rails. Jumper? Teach them to pole bend. Strictly for fun!!

Always keep your horse guessing. What is your next move going to be! Keep it fun, safe, and positive. Think outside of that proverbial box is also good for trainers who may be faced with a "problem" horse. You know, one that doesn't necessarily react to "normal" training methods, so you need to come up with another way to approach the lesson, while still reaching the same goal. Example; You have a horse that counter bends, well instead of continuously kicking him and reining him to get him to properly bend in to the center of the arena, Set up a barrel so that the horse has something to physically and VISUALLY bend AROUND! Props are a great and very fun tool to use while riding and schooling your horse.

Keep it interesting, keep it fun and if you get stumped for ideas, then talk it over with other horse riders. Some of my BEST training methods are from me exploring the ideas of different riders, and trainers, and tweaking them to suit my type of riding and training style. You'll really notice a difference in your horse's attitude and retention of his lessons when you start to think OUTSIDE that rectangle arena!!!!

So what are some fun, interesting things you do to keep your horse all psyched for ride time??


Amanda Nicole said...

I totally agree!! I think it is essential to keep a horse's mind fresh to get it out of the arena once in a while and just go for a nice trail ride. And doing new things like teaching a barrel horse to jump crossrails is great too because not only does it shake up the monotony of a routine, but it keeps the horse's attention and works on new areas of their training.
A+ post- it's sad to see those horses who never get a break from the same old thing day after day after day.

GoLightly said...

Brings to mind a certain dresage barn I boarded at. They were APPALLED that I was going to ride, out in the field!!! Arena work can drive anyone crazy, over, and over, and over.
EEEEeeeek, riding outside??!! And they wondered why their horses were kinda PITA's.

Try my "chase a nice, happy dog" trick. Worked for me...

Great Post!!

SammieRockes said...

My horse hates the arena. I mean it makes me wonder if before I got him all he did was arena work because HE HATES IT! I am working with him a little on it, but I still can't get him to lope in an arena. The most he listens is during drill team practice, until we have run the same pattern over and over again, then he gets bored. But we mostly do trails and he loves that. He would also make a good cow horse because he loves playing herd the passive horse that wont kick you! When we play like that is when he listens best, he actually will stop on a dime, normally it takes work to get him to stop

kestrel said...

Usually horses hate arenas for a darn good reason! I use the arena as a rest stop, maybe "play where did mom hide the treat. Yup, let me help you kick the blue plastic barrel, or feed in the arena." Then off to work outside, back to arena for more loves..etc.
Just like trailering, the goal is to get them comfortable in an environment that the horse probably associates with torture.
One goofy trick that works for me, is to tap my horse on the neck with a treat, then get him to reach back for it. I also do that from the horse's back. I do this from both sides of the horse and use 2 taps as a cue. Reason being, I've personally found that an angry or upset horse can literally "lock down" so tight that they forget who's up there! The hey, look back, see me, let's take a break seems to help them through it. Seen it save a life when a rider dropped a rein, too.LOL!

The Barn Bitch said...

EXCELLENT advice!!!

My mare's been on a layover after a cart accident and I thought we could just walk and do a good cardio workout together....NO...she has OTHER plans! Lap two in the backyard and the ears go back...the attempts at grazing start...ACK! So, I added trick-training! Now we walk, park, walk, give a kiss, walk, walk, work on the bow, walk, stretch, walk, walk, back, walk, DONE!

kestrel said...

Cool stuff! An old cowboy in our area had a 36 year old working fool of a mare, so he taught her tricks. She would put on a performance for all the kids, bask in the praise and applause, and it made her feel useful again.