Monday, May 17, 2010

Let's be frank, Horsemanship

Over the years, there have been many trends in the horse world. Too many to list, if the truth is to be told. One topic really gets my blood boiling and it's...natural horsemanship. I don't wish to offend followers of Buck Branaman (sp?), or Monty Roberts. I know these dudes have some special wisdom to impart to us bozo "equestrians", but the bottom line is that this stuff is elemental, people! Anyone who deals with horses on a daily basis knows that horses are animals. Some horses are smarter than others, but the training of horses, no matter the discipline, is not rocket science. We're not splitting atoms while turning them out, or teaching them to bend, or go forward, or jump, or do lead changes. C'mon! Another "guru" was recently brought to my attention and he shall go unnamed. This guy is an Australian fellow and he has called his training techniques the "Downunder Difference". My Lord. We would all be better horseman if we had an Australian accent! How simple! Why didn't all of us dumbass US horse trainers see this? Well, no matter. This fellow has spelled it all out, with a g'day thrown in for good measure. Really?
Once I read about this guy ( and I do think he's a good horseman, who teaches practical horsemanship), I had to draw the line. It comes down to basics. Horses learn from repetition. Emotions should be thrown out the window while riding. Don't get mad, don't be too passive, just be CONSISTENT. Teach them to stop on a straight line. Bend in corners, listen to leg aids and go forward and come back when asked. It's that easy! A long time ago, we had John Lyons clinic held at a farm that we had newly leased. John was a great guy on the surface. He had a giant following in the early nineties and we were prepared to watch and learn what this guy had to show us. I wish I could say he was a genius, but in my opinion he was rough and borderline abusive to the stock he used as examples in his show. In the off time of the clinic, he used his round pen to exhaust his horses. They were so tired by the time he stopped that they would have gladly layed down for him, or me, or you. These horses were beaten down. Not trained. It was horrible to watch. When the crowds gathered for his "clinic", he preached a different theory. The prep was something that only we had the privilege to witness. During the "clinic", he had the riders bend the horses at a STANDSTILL. That was it. End of the clinic. This information cost the participants hundreds of dollars. If you can't get a horse to yield to one rein, for a small period of time while standing still then get down. Stop riding. I hope this isn't sounding too harsh, but it became all about the gimmick. Of course, there are difficult horses that we've all encountered. Runaways, buckers, rearers, spooks, etc. Certain members of the "natural horsemanship" groups may be better at dealing with these issues than others. But it all comes down to breaking down the problems and dealing with them systematically. Good trainers are not plentiful, but the natural horsemanship sect has obnoxiously aspired to corner the market. Bad horses are created. Bad training, or inconsistent training creates "bad horses". Start them in a smart, practical manner. Establish the rules. There is a reason why Ceasar Milan has such a following in the dog world. It's the same thing and it irks me just as much! Animals are not people. Treat them well, but treat them accordingly to their species. You'll be shocked at the results. I swear! I'm a secret horse whisperer. Shhhh...don't tell anyone. I don't have an accent, or a gimmick. My husband is even better than I am. Just listen...quiet!!! Be smart, sympathetic and read the reactions. You'll be shocked by the results. Good training is no accident, it's just practical, consistent reactions. Amazing, I know, but give it a try. It works!!

No comments:

Post a Comment