On Training the Dog Trainer!

By Lynn –

I know I keep reiterating that horses aren’t dogs and vice versa.
But man am I learning that the concepts of learning and punishment are almost exactly the same, if applied differently!

Pull and release. Pull and release. If you keep pulling, then the horse/dog has something to pull against and will just keep resisting.

Learned that when Mystique kept throwing her shoulder to the outside and completely messing up her perfect circle by side-cantering out and while I was cranking her head to the side, my prof told me that while I was pulling, there was no release. I was doing almost everything right: pulling on the direct rein, creating a “Wall” with my indirect rein and bumping with my outside leg so she’d hopefully move off it toward our circle again, but I wasn’t releasing. And not only would she break the circle, but once she hit the fence (almost literally, she was running perpendicular to it at times and then TURN suddenly and keep cantering), she then tried to slam me into the wall or the stalls adjacent to the arena.

Teaching her to give to the bit and flex wasn’t pretty…we had to tie her head to the horn, tie the other rein to the D-ring on the saddle, and just drive her around in a circle at liberty for a while until she started giving and flexing. Then it was one GOOD circle at the canter (which was all I was asking of her to BEGIN with), a hose-off and the pasture.

Despite that, I had her walking and trotting next to me for a good half hour, just doing groundwork. Oh, and I didn’t have a lead rope on her…she was just hooked-on to me, just like an off-leash doggy. I’ve never had that happen before with any horse, probably because I’ve never worked with one this extensively, and wow the feeling of trust and the bond you feel when you’re doing that…amazing.

It continually amazes me how different animals are, yet the concepts of behavior are kinda sorta the same.