Communication or Motivation? Which do you think you need?

I usually write my own article for the blog, but this article offers an interesting point of view. I always want to look at many different ideas on how to train horses. Then I can try it and see how it works with my horses. They tell me whether it would a great addition to my training or not. Horses’ opinions are the best judge. I would love a lot of different opinions from you as well.

Horse Charming

Often when I am asked to help people with horses, or when I teach small groups about how horses learn, I ask the people participating what they most want out of the lesson or class.

Very often the first thing people say is that they’d like a better relationship with their horse and usually when I ask what that means they say that they wished their horse would listen to them more or they complain that they don’t seem to be able to get through to their horse or to communicate with him.

If your horse does not respond when you ask him to do something, generally or in specific situations, it is really useful to think about this from two angles.

Think about whether you have a need to improve your communication skills, or whether you need to improve your motivation skills. And in the moment, when you are with…

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Horses have a way of learning from each other, and we can too

I really have not been working the horses as much as I would like to lately so I can try to earn some extra money to help the family pay the bills during some tough times.  I am trying to pull in more music students as well as painting inside a client’s home.  Hopefully the horses will do more shows this summer to make things easier for us.  But because of these extra jobs, I have to be creative in trying to make some time for working the horses with their tricks and riding time.

Shmigley has a keen observer in Cheyenne.  (Photo by Tina Crawford)

Shmigley has a keen observer in Cheyenne. (Photo by Tina Crawford)

So while I am working with the horses, I have a regular routine with them.  I feed my horses and while they are eating I take out the little minis and work with them for an hour to an hour and a half.  But halfway into her meal, Cheyenne decides it is more exciting to watch me train the minis rather than to eat the remainder of her meal.  So she stands at her window watching every move I make with the little guys.  She every so often pulls a big cheesy grin hoping that I would give in to her charming looks and not be able to resist giving her a treat while training.  Sometimes it works.

After a while I decide to have all four horses out there in the front while I am training.  I have found that the more the horses watch me train the more they learn.  After all, that is how Gypsy learned how to paint, right?  So horses learn to do certain things by watching the other horse be worked.  There are constantly new things we can pick up from observing the horse.  So I love to have the horses observing each other while doing the tricks.  After all, that is how we learn too, isn’t it?

However, I love to work with each horse individually out in the horse’s pasture.  I am building my own personal relationship with these equine friends of mine.  They are all excited to work with this way, and they love their time learning new things.  I work each horse for a while, then I move to the next, and so forth.  However, I like to keep going back and forth between the horses because it keeps them excited for more.  I don’t work on anything until they are bored.  I work on a discipline, then quit working it when they get it before they get emotionally tired.

Another thing that I love to do is have the minis’ owner Tina there to shoot video of the horses for me.  That is how I get all these wonderful videos on YouTube.  If you would like, you can subscribe to “Amy Miller’s Horsin’ Around” on YouTube.  We put some videos up on a regular basis, except when it is cold weather, too cold to film.  But in the warm weather, we record quite a bit of the “action.”