By Amy Kathleen Miller

I have not blogged for a while, I’ve been busy doing regular training with my horses and working with my mare Cheyenne on doing tricks to work toward getting something started to earn some kind of extra income with my passion for horses.

Horse watching
Horse watching (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

However, since I have moved to the Salt Lake County Equestrian Park I have met some very nice people.  Recently, I have met a lady who does Pat Parelli training on her horses.  A lot of this training is done understanding horse psychology.  It is different thinking from the normal horse training of just forcing your horse to do what you want.  However, with my having an interest and experience in dressage I have learned a little about horse psychology and some on this kind of training but not a lot.

This is a different kind of training and a lot gentler then many methods.  Don’t take the horse beyond its threshold or where they are comfortable.  We should focus on how our horse is feeling and if they are happy in the process.  This was a new thing — we should focus on whether our horses are pinning back the ears, holding the head high, a lot of tail swishing, whether our horse tries to bite us, kick us, etc.  All these are ways the horse is telling us that they are not entirely happy with what is going on with how we do things.  I have already been establishing this part of training because of trick training but I find that building a relationship first is a very important part of training a horse.

Cover of "The Soul of a Horse: Life Lesso...
Cover via Amazon

I have been reading Joe Camp‘s books about “Soul of A Horse” which talks about building a relationship first and the importance of it, spending time with our horses that is positive, not necessarily training but spending time and enjoying each other’s company, how our horses love to be with us as well.

When I first moved to the new facility, I felt bad for my horses because they were in boxed 10-by-10-foot stalls.  They are used to being able to walk around and enjoy their other horse buddies’ company.  They can’t even see each other in these stalls.  At first they had such a hard time adjusting that I was almost feeling as if I should spend the night in my vehicle to be close to them.  But instead, I would walk them out to an arena and turn them loose for a certain amount of time.  I went early enough that there was no one else out there.  They would run around and enjoy seeing each other and race.  Seeing their competitive streak was quite entertaining.  I would stay the whole time they were out to watch their interaction.  However, I used to watch their behavior where I kept them before because I found it to be quite interesting to see how they react as a small herd.

Here are some interesting facts from Pat Parelli’s program that could cause a few to scratch their head as to why this is.

1.  The horses are our teachers and our judges.  Sometimes the horse will whisper to you, at other times they will yell at you.  Don’t ignore when they react to something and try to see what is causing your horse to bite at you or throwing their head while you are riding.  They are telling you something important.  It is important to get together with someone, preferably someone who knows horse psychology, and figure it out.  Pat Parelli instructors are good at reading your horse.

2.  Horses don’t think like people.  That is why so many people have problems with horses.  They don’t think like horses think.  We need to understand our horses’ perspective on things.  Left-brained horses are using the thinking side of the brain and working calmly through situations.  Right-brained horses are running on instinct, not thinking, they are in fight or flight mode.  We want to teach these horses to be more left-brained thinkers and work calmly through situations that arise.

3.  We need a lot of horse savvy.  We don’t get this unless we spend a lot of time on the ground and on their backs with our horses.  Savvy is natural know-how.  It’s a lot of horse wisdom, it is knowing horses mentally, physically, and emotionally, how to help our horses and where we should be or how we do what we do.

These are a few highlights that I have obtained along with much more, but I didn’t want to put too much out or I would write a very long article.  I would rather tell you more about my experience as I go along.  I am in Level 1 and am on my way to learning the seven learning games of training horses in the Pat Parelli method.

If you are interested in knowing more about it, then you could look it up on Pat Parelli’s website at http://www.parellinaturalhorsetraining.com/

I am excited to go through a whole new world of learning with my two horses.  If all goes well, we will go down a new road to more freedom and a broader friendship with my wonderful mares.

Before I go, I would love to leave you with a trick that Cheyenne has done.

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3 thoughts on “AMY’S ANGLE: A different kind of horse training

  1. Hi Amy – could I offer you a path to also follow? Look into Tom Dorrance. I will venture to say you – and your rightly beloved horses (a passion we share) will resonate greatly with his wisdom. His book “True Unity” is one of the gems of empathetic horsemanship. All of the “natural horseman” Amy – got the core of their philosophy from this gentle, knowing man who was given a true gift. We lost him at the age of 93 ~ he left behind a legacy of wisdom.

  2. Thank you for this information on this horse trainer. I will look up more on his book. I did look at it this morning but I will look more at another time when I have more time. I love working with horses and I look forward everyday to work with mine.

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