Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How to C.O.P.E with your horse while working with him

Taco learning via the COPE system 
The key to successfully training an animal are all in the way in which you COPE with him. To establish a trust and a bond with your animal are imperative to your success. In order for him to trust you and vice versa you have to build this bond. It takes time, and work, and LOTS of both. Here are all the tools you need to COPE with your training:
Compassion- You must care about the animal you are working with. It does neither you, nor him any good if you cannot truly care about him. You will not be able to connect with an animal you do not care for. So, be fair to him and to you alike by LEARNING to care for him if you must.
Optimism- You must be optimistic when working with him. Have a positive outlook and you will go far. Negativity breeds lack of success! Horses are very empathic themselves. They can tell when we feel good, or when we are having an off day. When you establish a bond with a horse or mule, you will be
able to tell when he’s feeling good. So, when you approach your tasks with optimism, it will radiate from you and will be picked up by the animal, therefore ensuring a productive training session. Likewise, if you approach your tasks with a poor attitude, and are pessimistic about your success, it’s like as not to
produce a bad, if not even dangerous session.
Patience- It requires LOTS of patience to work with horses and especially a mule. You have to take the time that it takes. You cannot force a square peg into a round hole, so to speak, so come into each session prepared to take as long as needed. If you do not have time to do your tasks correctly, without
rushing, then do not start. Wait until you DO have the time. As a wise man once said: “Shortcuts make for long delays.” When you rush your training you leave holes for yourself, or for the next person to come along. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right the FIRST time.
Empathy- The ability to understand and share the feelings of another. This simply means that you have
to try and understand where he's coming from. Put yourself it his shoes, so to speak. It will make you a better trainer, and a better horse person all the way around. I DON'T mean treat him like a 5 y/o child; he's still a horse after all. I just mean to try to imagine how your training is affecting him on the whole.
Going back to an earlier point, horses themselves are very good empaths, so should you be. Learn to tell when he’s having a good, or even an off day.

Applying these four principles to your training regimen will ensure that you have a productive, and even a fun training session. Equines should serve us because we've helped them WANT to be with us, rather than to break their spirits. It’s easy to take short cuts, but you have to think about the bigger picture. Do you really want a slave, or would you rather have a willing, enthusiastic partner willing to go above and beyond the call?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Long Rider

The thunder rumbles

Low and deep in the
Dark heavy clouds
As they hug the horizon.
The lightning forks
And streaks angrily
Across the stygian depths of sky.
Slowly, dreamily
The first drops begin to fall.
The large drops making craters
In the dusty earth.
The rain comes on
With all its eminent authority.
With unmitigated fury
The wall of rain
Bursts into his camp.
Sizzling, smoking and Popping,
The fire protests weakly.
Pulling his hat down
He packs the last of his gear
Onto his ol’ pony.
With the practiced ease
Lent him by many
Years astride a horse,
He throws a leg over
The weather beaten, care worn saddle.
Ducking his head,
The big gelding is turned
Into the oncoming storm.
Rain or shine,
He’s got to ride.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

"Just a Trail Horse?"

I heard in passing the other day, someone saying their horse was "Just" a trail horse. REALLY? JUST a trail horse? Would you say your Dr. is "Just" a brain surgeon? Would you say your accountant is "JUST a numbers guy"? Let's break this down to it's barest level here. Show horses, as nice and pretty as they are are ridden on a set, prescribed course in a controlled environment. Granted, there are new horses and new places to show, but the show pen is always the same. Round and round and round. Trail horses, on the contrary must learn to adapt easily, and quickly to new experiences, and environments. You cannot control nature, so there is no telling WHAT you will see when you go out. A trail horse must exhibit self control, and extreme confidence. When the going gets tough, they have to have the guts to stay put. They have to be tough, to handle the varied terrain, as well as versatile enough to adapt to different situations. He must be smart enough to learn how to think for himself, yet reliable enough to trust your judgement. Great trail horses are not born, they are made.So, to sum up, trail horses rule, all the rest drool! I'm just kidding, I firmly believe that the more jobs a horse has, the better off he will be. He will be happier,steadier, HEALTHIER,and a better ride for it. I mean really, when you think of horseback riding, do you dream of going circles in an arena all day, or do you dream of being in the wilderness, experiencing nature the way God intended, on the back of a horse(or mule)? We all dreamt of the freedom that riding in the outdoors would bring us. Right? So, the next time you hear someone say they have "just" a trail horse, make sure to remind them that they are one of the lucky ones.