Saturday, January 25, 2014

Natural Horsemanship for Kids

Teaching youngsters to have better control and understanding of horses starts early on with training, both with kids as well as the horse.  And what better way to start-right at ground level.  This is the very same way a horse trainer starts an animal when it first comes into training.
    1.  Draw and Drive
This is the most important way to bring handler and horse together by enabling trust through movement.  Applying and releasing pressure to enable a response can be learned by this method.   In order to 'draw' a horse to him/her, a handler must stop all movement and pressure on the animal. This lets the horse know that it is ok to come forward and be touched.
To 'drive' a horse is to encourage movement away from the handler. Applying pressure by walking toward the horse and using vocal commands usually makes the animal move away. If this does not, sometimes twirling a lead rope might be enough to get it moving.  With the help of an adult, youngsters can learn the safe way to do this.
     2.  Finding the Drive Line
To find the drive line on a horse is finding the point where pressure is to be applied or withdrawn in order to achieve a desired response.  No two horses are the same in energy level and personality. This will depend mostly on whether the horse is active or lazy.  To draw a horse toward the handler he must position himself parallel to a point just in front of the drive line.  To drive the animal away the handler must position himself at a spot behind the drive line, such as the hip.
     3.  Yielding the Hip
Asking a horse to yield its hip is a way to teach a handler how a horse responds to pressure.  The handler must position himself on the side of the animal just behind the drive line and then applies pressure towards the hip in order to elicit movement away from the handler. Once the horse moves away, release the pressure immediately.  Usually all it takes is just one step, but some horses move more, often jumping or running away.  This takes practice.
     4.  Going Left and Right
The handler faces the horse, then applies pressure by moving toward the animal.  To move the horse to its left, apply pressure on its right side.  To move the horse to its right, apply pressure on the left.  This starts out with the nose, then neck, shoulder, and finally the horse's front legs and feet in the desired direction.  Once that smallest movement takes place, remove the pressure immediately. Don't forget horses are two sided.  Practice moving on the right side as well.  It gets the animal accustomed to having someone on both sides, and not just on the left.
     5.  Longeing
When both horse and handler have gotten used to moving left and right, they can begin longeing.  This is gaining more control of a horse's feet while on the ground.  As the horse responds to a cue to yield, the handler positions himself at the drive line and moves the horse forward, away from him.  Increasing that pressure at the drive line encourages movement into a circle; the handler pivots in place while the horse moves around the handler in a large circle.
     6.  Gear Safety
Adults should perform a tack inspection with the youngster before saddling and bridling a horse. Both adults and children should share this responsibility as there are times an adult will not always be available to ensure the safety of the rider.
     7.  Saddle Without Tying
To prevent a horse from developing bad habits such as pulling back, saddling without tying a horse is safer.
If a horse moves while being saddled, the handler can make the horse move its hip until it is encouraged to stand still for the saddle.  Sometimes it is best to have a professional trainer give a few lessons to the horse on standing while being saddled.  Once accustomed to this routine, many horses find that standing still is by far much better than having to move.
     8.  Correct Saddle Position
Place the saddle slightly in front of the horse's withers, then wiggle the saddle horn until the saddle slides back into its natural position.   This helps a youngster better understand where the saddle fits.
     9.  Give Breaks
Kids get bored easily and start to lose attention when lessons are given.  Give them a few minutes to relax and change up the routine a bit to encourage involvement and attention.  Keep it fun and educational and kids will enjoy spending time with horses.
   10.  Praise
Adults should give lessons that a kid will succeed at and later progress as they learn and become more acquainted with the horse
.  Praise them when they succeed.

Brooks Gaited Horse Training

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