Now that I have given a little introduction on how my relationship began with Cheyenne and Gypsy, I will go more into what Cheyenne, Gypsy and I do that you might enjoy.
Cheyenne is my primary trick horse and I am going on four years of working with her on trick training. It has been quite a fun journey for me as well as Cheyenne. As I worked with Cheyenne, there were times that I had to be extremely patient, and there were times I became quite frustrated, because not all methods worked in the same manner on every horse.
Since I was learning out of a book, at times it became very challenging for me because sometimes I found that the presentation on how to walk through the steps in the book didn’t always work on the horses, which made it very frustrating. Even to this day there are some tricks that I have not been able to do because I still have not been able to figure it out. So I figured that I would purchase many trick books to accumulate many individual views on how to do one trick, or many different trainers’ descriptions on how to do various tricks. I figured many different explanations would make it easier to understand how to teach it. It did help to have these different viewpoints, but there are still a few tricks that I have not been able to figure out. But I will keep at it to learn how to conquer these elusive tricks.
One thing that I have decided to do to help with tricks is to get into natural horsemanship training. I have not regretted it. My horses are more “tuned in” to me than they’ve ever been. I am getting my horses to do moves that conventional training really doesn’t put into the requirements in the beginning. Natural horsemanship has made trick training far easier for my horses to catch on to my training than conventional methods. I have learned this form of training in dressage training as well. Once the horse responds, stop giving the aid immediately. I have seen many riders giving their horse a cue and then continue to give the cue. To a horse, continuing to give the aid — even when they are responding — is like nagging to have something done in a manner as if they wouldn’t complete the task. I have also learned to reward the smallest try. Even if you can only see a slight lean in the correct direction, reward it. Then you build from there.
I have been learning this in trick training but I had it even more ingrained in natural horsemanship training. Your mood is everything too, and I am able to perform as well as I am because I don’t allow myself to get nervous. If my horses react a certain way, 95% of the reason has to do with the trainer. So I have this policy with myself, to leave my moods at the door, whether it is fear or anger, before even entering into playing with my horses. If I forget to do that I don’t really work well with my horses. It really hit home when natural horsemanship emphesizes the need to control your moods around your horse.
My horses and I have put on quite a few performances with my moods checked at the door many times and it has been quite successful. Cheyenne performed every time. It is so exciting to see us building a great relationship. She is an awesome horse. The more I work with her, the safer she becomes and the more entertaining she becomes. The most recent performance was done at night with bright lighting. But that bright light causes shadows that make it scarier for horses. Gypsy was more spooky but Cheyenne did great with some distractions.
With all this knowledge, I am now training some minis as well and it will be exciting to discuss my progress with them as well as Cheyenne and some about Gypsy. So what is my job description? I am really a horse trick trainer more than anything. But I do ride as well and I love to do both, as well as bringing natural horsemanship into the mix of great training which can make great horses.