In my previous blog post on http://www.artofriding.org/1/post/2013/03/stages-of-training.html , you have read about the different stages of training. You have also seen that before starting the actual training of the horse, it is important to create a basic element of trust, friendship and leadership.
“You can be the horses friend without being its teacher, but you can never be its teacher without being its friend.” (Bent Branderup)
As a human and as the teacher of the horse, this requires a certain personal development and skills for self-evaluation. Studying Natural Horsemanship methonds can help with this. However, different NH methods have different visions of what kind of leader is preferred (again, determine your goal to find out what basic you need!). Many NH methods focus on submission of the horse. Forcing a horse into submission by physical or mental pressure is a way to create an obedient horse, but does not lead to the cooperation and partnership that I am looking for in the Art of Riding. Sending the horse away from you (from the safety of the group) can have the same effect as hitting it. For the Art of Riding, we need a horse that wants to think with and for its rider, and is open for a continuous communication. Signals will have to become subtle and the horse must be voluntarily doing the work for you. Therefore, we need to establish a delicate relationship with the horse, in which boundaries are set clearly, but within the boundaries the horse is respected and can be itself. If you want to study NH further, explore friendly ways of obtaining leadership. Not by dominating, but by leading from example, by initiating and inviting. Be critical in which trainer and which method you select to do some practical work, do not let yourself be blinded by the ‘famous’ ones, but try to find out the WHAT, HOW and WHY of the method and determine if this fits with you (and your horse).
The Horsemanship principles that I use in the Art of Riding are:
1) clear intent (knowing what you want and how you want it)
2) taking initiative in body language (giving the right example)
3) rewarding quickly and often (positive reinforcement)
4) correcting without anger or frustration (emotionally neutral)
5) being patient
6) adapting the training method to the personality of the horse
7) having FUN and enjoying the time spent together with the horse
I like to share my thoughts on the Art of Riding with you here. Topics related to training and keeping horses and reports of my own experiences you can find here. Enjoy!