Principles and Philosophy
Horses give their best when they feel good about the work and not perform simply because they have been trained to do a job. Just about all behaviourial problems are based on bad feelings the horse is experiencing about the work. Change the way he feels and you change the way he behaves. Part of that is not killing his personality. I work every horse from a basis of understanding of what that horse is feeling towards the training and how the training can be modified in order to help each horse to feel better about his role.
Horses are bigger and stronger than we are, yet have a gentleness and curiosity about them that seems childlike. They also have an immense capacity to try to get along and forgive all our faults when we present training in a way that they feel does not threaten them. Qualities such as these are sometimes lost when the human attempts to ‘train’ a horse.
It is important to allow a horse to try something different from what they know, to venture further than they have before and come out the other side is key to helping a horse feel better about the horse/human relationship. Many people appear to be unable to allow a horse to make a mistake, and put the animal in a situation where they can't get anything right. It's either the human's way or nothing, and that's not the way a horse functions. It kills their curiosity, their natural urge to know what is safe, and what will save them. When training, helping a horse to feel confident to try, even if it's not what we eventually want is important. If a horse feels they can offer something, anything, and that they will not be criticized or get into trouble, then I have a place to start. Most horses we see have learned that trouble is nearby when a person is in the picture. I want to change that.
When it comes to teaching people about horses I think learning to understand what motivates the behaviour of a horse in a ‘moment to moment’ sense is the biggest obstacle that people face. Once you learn to listen to how a horse feels inside, you can then learn to present yourself and your ideas to a horse in a way that feels good to the horse and will allow him to go along with your ideas with a minimum of fuss. You can’t work horses to a formula or recipe because a horse’s needs change every second let alone from horse to horse. Methods are not nearly as important as ‘feel’ when working a horse because if you have ‘feel’ you can adapt just about any method in a way that will feel good to a horse.