Horse Training Principles, provided by eXtension

Uploaded by eXHorses on 20.08.2009

We want to talk about the basic concepts of training.
Everything that we do in training is based on pressure and release,
aggressive pressure, consistency, on doing the things we have to do to get a horse to respond
Now, in everything that we do, if we're going to pull his head around,
we're going to put a little pressure, and as soon as that horse responds we're going to release
That is the key principle in everything that we do.
Anytime the horse responds we release that pressure.
If we put pressure on his head, right here,
as soon as that head goes down, we release that pressure
and you can see he's not very excited about this.
But if every time the head goes down, we release that pressure,
then before long, you can put the horse's head on the ground,
or wherever you want it. If we ask a horse to lay down,
we start by basically asking this horse to give to that pressure.
Pressure and release is the key to everything. If we ask this horse to move his hip,
we're going to reach back here and go *bump, bump, bump, bump, bump
as soon as the hip moves, we quit bumping on it.
Pressure, and then release. Everything is based on pressure and release.
Whether we're backing him up,
as soon as we get a step, we release the pressure, put a little pressure
and release. That is the key concept in everything that we do on a horse.
Put pressure on a horse some way and release.
Whether we're teaching him to spin, to stop, change leads, whatever,
We put pressure on a horse, and as soon as we get an appropriate response, we release
Alright, now the key in this deal is progressive pressure.
If we ask a horse to move, and this horse is pretty sensitive,
when we ask him to move over and we go *bump, bump, bump, bump
and he's not responding, we just keep increasing the pressure until he releases
as soon as he releases from that pressure, we quit.
So it's aggressive pressure, we keep adding more pressure,
until he releases. Now, as soon as the horse responds, we go back to our lightest pressure.
So we will put whatever kind of pressure it takes
to get the horse to move. If he moves off of real light pressure,
then we never put heavy pressure on him. But if he doesn't, then we'll put more and more pressure on him.
until that horse will get more and more responsive.
Now, the key in all of this is consistency.
If every day I sing Dixie, and then kick this horse in the leg,
about the fifth day I sing Dixie, he's going to move his leg.
Now there is no relationship between my singing and him moving his leg, but
but he is trying to figure out what's going on.
So whatever I'm doing, if I twist his ear and kick his leg,
then before long, anytime I twist his ear, he's going to move his leg.
So all we have to do is be consistent, even if we are consistently wrong,
the horse is trying to figure it out. If we would use proper pressure and release,
aggressive pressure, and we're consistent, the horse will keep getting better and better for us.
Now, the fourth concept is stress and relax.
Anytime that we're training a horse we put a certain amount of stress on them.
because they're confused, they don't understand. If I'm asking him to move,
and I'm bumping him on the nose, or whatever, initially he doesn't understand that.
it doesn't make any sense, he doesn't like it, and so he's a little stressed.
Now after I've stressed him a little bit, see he's a little concerned about his head,
and about me handling him, so I've got to relax him.
In everything that we do, if we ask a horse to be real collected and push his hip up under him
and hold his face and do the kind of things we do in advanced maneuvers,
then the horse gets a little stressed and nervous.
We've got to relax them. So in our training process, we'll ask the horse
to move, and after we've asked him to move,
particularly if we get a little aggressive with him and he gets a little scared,
then we've got to go back and relax.
Let the horse relax and digest that idea, digest that thought,
And as they get quieter, and more relaxed, you get a bigger and better response.
So we've got him stressed, we get high performance, we relax him, and he understands it,
so we get high performance without getting into the arena and having a horse nervous and excited
Now, the next thing we want to talk about is positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement.
The horse, in his choosing to make decisions, is going to make some wrong decisions.
Whatever we respond to, the horse is going to do more of.
So if I ask this horse to move around,
and he does, then I'm going to relax him, but if he decides,
if I ask him to move around and he decides to kick at me or be ugly,
then I've got to be a little ugly to him, because I've got to give him some negative reinforcement
and tell him, 'nope, that wasn't appropriate'.
So, whatever I reward he's going to do more of, whatever I punish he's going to do less of.
So in all my training, if he gives me an appropriate response,
I'm going to be as quiet and relaxed as I can,
and if he gives me an inappropriate response, then I'm going to stay after him and
or maybe punish him. So we're going to have positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement.
Whatever it takes to either encourage the horse to do the right thing,
or discourage him from doing the wrong thing.
Now, as you are training, and as the horse advances,
we keep asking him to be better and better.
Now you've seen how I've moved this horse's shoulder a couple of times,
if I ask this horse to move his shoulder, initially when I ask him
I only get one step and I'm happy with it.
As he gets better and better at it, I'm going to ask him to give me 3 or 4 steps,
and ultimately, to give me a bunch of steps. So that if I step into him,
that I will get a lot of steps,
and he will get better and better at it. So I keep increasing my expectations
As he gets better and better, I expect him to get better and better.
And so if I'm always satisfied with him just giving me a little bit, then that's all he's ever going to give.
So I keep increasing the expectations.
Ultimately, when this horse gets to a high level of performance,
then we become partners. This horse basically I give him a lot of opportunity,
to do the things that he wants to do, to make his decisions, so
for example, if I'm running down the arena 100 miles and hour, and I ask him to stop,
I don't tell him to stop. I ask him to stop and let him stop on his own.
Because he's a partner with me. Now if he chooses not to be a partner,
and doesn't stop, or doesn't turn, or doesn't do the things we want him to do,
then I'll go back and reprimand him, and try to increase his expectations
and my expectations of him. But with a cutting horse, or if it's a barrel racing horse,
a reining horse, some roping horses, or high level dressage horses, they operate
on almost entirely their own, with minimal effort from the rider, because they
are basically partners in the process. Ultimately that's where we want to get with our horse
to where we don't bump them, we don't kick them, we don't pull on them,
we just ride in balance and rhythm and give them very subtle cues and they respond
to us and become true partners in what we're asking them to do.