In the world it seems that the simple truth is hard to come by. People are quite capable at manipulating words in order to alter belief systems. People do this to benefit themselves for various reasons (this article is far too short to explore these reasons). In the horse world, 90 percent of the training methods utilized are based on manipulated belief systems, that are usually derived from other belief systems. These systems are usually developed to attract people and create income. Then these systems are changed as time passes to attract more income. Or even worse, the system is recreated by Johnny come lately, based on beliefs off the first faulted system.
In reality, these faulty methods are a huge problem in the horse world, and the problem has gotten so bad that over 90 percent of all horses are not ridden. Out of the remaining 10 percent that are ridden, 80 percent of those are not safe mounts. Do the math – that means that every 2 in 100 horses are safe. In my younger years, the percentage of safe, well-trained horses was around 70 percent. That number has shrank so exponentially that if I had not seen it happen with my own eyes, I would not have believed it.
Although there are other factors at work here, such as the physical and mental condition of the rider and horse, feed, unnatural care methods of the horse and so on, the fact that the truths of horse training have been replaced by heavily faulted belief systems seems to me to be the primary cause of this.
So what are the truths that training should be based on? I’m glad you asked!
1. Never harm the horse.
2. The trainer is absolutely responsible for every result. PERIOD.
3. All horses communicate with body language thru pressure and release. Horses know what you want by the application of pressure and will desire to do what you want because of the release of pressure.
4. Always use enough pressure to obtain the desired results, and always use as little as possible (see rule 1.)
5. If you cannot get a horse to desire your company at all times, it will result in you being dismounted.
6. You cannot scare a horse into not being scared ( also known as de-spooking)
7. Horse training should always be interesting for the horse and should never be exciting for the people.
8. Horses should always move away from pressure and never apply pressure to a human. It is the humans responsibility to create space for the horse to move away into.
9. Always remember you tell a horse where not to be (not where to go – that’s a predator mentality!)
10. Make the good thing easy – make the bad thing hard (for example – you cannot make a horse stand still, he must desire to do so!)
These are 10 of the golden truths of horse training and just so you know, these truths can be applied in other aspects of life. That’s how truth works – it is always true whether it’s a horse, a career decision or correcting your child. The truth will set you free!
Onyx came into my life in January 2009. In the past 3 years she has battled strangles and founder. In the spring of 2012 I decided this mare needed to have a job and I was desperate to find someone who would work with her without sacrificing my horse’s soul. And so it begins…
On June 9 I brought Dean a horse with soundness issues due to her foundering previously. I brought him a horse that had no desire to please a human, but who would rather intimidate people with her size and power.
Dean saw that Onyx’s issues ran deep and they weren’t all psychological…her physical well being needed to be addressed as well. He took such care to get my horse physically comfortable in the first three weeks by trimming her feet, giving her massages. Anything he could think that would help, he did. He could have physically pushed my horse, took my money for a month’s worth of training and sent us on our way, but he didn’t!
This man cares about the horses and he cares about the people who own these horses that come through his gates. He has a plethora of knowledge and he loves to share it. He spent hours talking to me and sharing the lessons he has learned in his career…and he does it with passion! He is teaching me how to speak horse and to translate the information my horse gives me and to have a relationship with Onyx.
It’s been a beautiful experience to have Dean train me and teach my horse and I’m excited to say my journey isn’t over. I’m continuing lessons with Dean and he is also continuing to trim Onyx’s feet to keep her sound.
~ Donna Austin, Clayton, DE
Centaur Training, LLC
A full-service boarding/training facility.