In training a horse, good relationships come first

I went to a riding/ground training lesson a couple weeks ago, and I love my lessons.  I get a lot out of them that I apply to my training.  Today, I was working on having my horse lay down in a more natural way.  The only problem — I am not in level 4 of the Pat Parelli method in the relationship aspect of it.  My goal is to get a relationship first to be able to get her to perform for me without the treats as rewards.  I want Cheyenne to perform because of the relationship.

Working with Cheyenne on laying down on command.  There's still work to do on this.  Getting that trust is important.  (Photo by John G. Miller)

Working with Cheyenne on laying down on command. There’s still work to do on this. Getting that trust is important. (Photo by John G. Miller)

When learning horsemanship and horse psychology together, it just proves to me that there is so much to learn.  The exploration with Cheyenne is exciting.  However, she is my experimental horse.  What I learn with her, I can practice on the other horses that I work with.  It makes it slower to learn when I have five horses all together to teach.

It takes a long time to truly learn how to be a great natural horsewoman/horse psychologist.  The more I learn, the more I can see that I feel just like a baby in the horse world of knowledge.  But the more experienced I become is the time I feel more inferior to lack of knowledge.  There is so much to learn and we should never stop learning, ever!  There is too much that we do not know about the horse, we need to keep pursuing that knowledge.

I am learning to build the relationship first, then it will become easier to train.  The more trust there is between you and your horse, the easier it will be to communicate.  That is becoming more and more applicable in my case with the horses.  There has always been the question of why do the students of Pat Parelli have an incredible relationship with their horses?  This is why: the relationship is more important than anything else we do.  I am finding that to be more true all the time with Cheyenne and then the four other horses I work with every day.  They all have their own unique needs to be dealt with and there is a solution to those different needs, but it does take time.  I will give an example of one horse I had to give an incredible amount of time to another time.

As far as teaching Cheyenne to lay down for me willingly, I am getting very close but I need to get her to say yes and feel comfortable in putting herself in that position for me.  I am almost there, but there’s no rush, I want her to do it willingly for me and not feel forced.  That trust needs to be built.  My instructor, Jolene, told me that it might take 30 days for them to do it, however, that relationship needs to be there first.  I want this feeling with my horses, this trust and understanding that we could just have a silent language between different species.

As humans we are so much into direct-line thinking.  We need to acknowledge that in the horse world that does not always work.  We need to be flexible with our goals and willing to walk down a different path to get to our goal if the need arises with our horses.  Here is a quote for you to ponder over in your relationship with horses.

“Take care of your horse’s feelings whenever they emerge, no matter what.  They are more important than your own goal and they are more important than someone else’s opinion.  If you take care of your horse’s mind, emotions, and body, he’ll give you everything you want willingly.”  Pat Parelli

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