The horse is the one constant that never changes in all riding disciplines. I believe in focusing on an approach to teaching horses that applies to all disciplines. Specific disciplines focus on specific exercises. Approach is how we interact with the horse to accomplish our goals, apply the training techniques, how we interact with the horse, and how we build a relationship with the horse. Our APPROACH is much greater than the training exercises that someone does in an arena. My focus is on HOW we approach communication to get the most our of training and to develop a positive relationship with the horse.
My approach is to work from the horse's point of view. I want to present my ideas to the horse in a manner that I think would make the most sense for him to understand. A horse will have a thought and make a choice before he takes action. If I can affect the thought he has or the choice he makes then I am affecting the action that the horse will take. So often we are fixated on the desirable action we want the horse to make and we push him, literally, right past the moment of choice into an action that may not be desirable. By giving him a moment to think and concentrating our efforts on influencing the horse during the moment of choice, we are allowing him to learn, we are allowing the horse to feel good about his choice, we are insuring that he will make the same choice more often. Our focus should be to offer the horse the help he needs to make the desired choice. By being aware of where the horses thoughts are and how he feels, in the moment, we are able to find the best way to help the horse make the desired choice. He will take care of the action himself. As we improve, we learn how to do less to get the same response. Often by doing less, we also find the horse resists less. We often PUSH the horse into being resistant because we didn’t allow them or help them to choose the desirable behavior. We are not leaving him alone to struggle to find the right answer or "fear the consequences", but we are going to HELP the horse to find the right choice. As the horse improves , then what was once his last choice will become his first choice. It will happen in a split second. There is a fine line between giving a student guidance versus doing their homework for them. We need to be able to tell the difference. That is what I mean by INFLUENCE; Offer the horse the support he needs. This is where partnership, respect and trust are formed.