being with horses blogspot: Horsemanship
I am currently sort of redefining my way with horses. Horsemanship is a journey not a goal and I am always interested in what other trainer and horse people have to offer and how their approach to horses is. I am no big fan of clicker training (which is becoming hugely popular here in Germany), but funny enough I get to know people who I really appreciate and who are huge proponents of the clicker stuff. That does not mean that I am adapting their ways, of course, but still it influences my thinking. On the other hand, Warwick Schiller's way with horses is stricter (maybe even harder) than the horsemanship I have been practicing so far.
Let me give you an example how these two pretty opposing ways of being with horses have influenced what I do.
Few days ago I worked with a Norwegian Fjord horse, a mare, 18 years old and an attitude on 4 feet. It is not that she is bad behaving, she just assumes she knows everything there is to know about humans. Communicating with her feels like screaming, and the vocabulary we share consist of 4 words. Sophisticated would be something rather different. With her, I chose the "clicker person", meaning a softer approach. I turned her loose and let her decide for herself what she wanted to do and if she wanted to interact. That was an option that hadn't been offered to her in the past - and which got me her attention. Instead of working on achieving responsiveness or yielding to pressure I worked on her interest.
Today, I worked with a Palomino gelding, a pretty high strung horse with separation issues (at least that is what the owners said). I chose the "harder" approach. Instead of allowing him to do what he wanted (looking around and being concerned) I made clear that he is not allowed to walk into me and that he can rest at some distance next to me. When he looked away, I directed his head back to me (it didn't take much). I clearly communicated what was right and what was wrong. We basically passed the time standing around, doing some desensitizing and then a friend showed up and we talked, with the horse waiting patiently. He relaxed quickly and his tension went away almost completely. I doubt that I would have achieved anything if I had allowed him to do what he wanted.
This is why I try to keep an open mind - horses are different and have different needs.