Problem Solving

Problem Solving

Most horses when asked to tie, stand, get in a trailer, allow a person to sit on them, jump a fence, cross water,  and many other things take them in stride. A few do not. There are several reasons why this happens

Commonly horses learn well by immersion. Just by doing it they become comfortable and capable. A few do not. This group are where many “problem horses” come from. The simple solution is to break down whatever they are supposed to do, until they can cope and once they have learned step one, two is easier and after a while they understand. Sometimes if a horse says “ I don wana” all it takes is to be a little firm.  As soon as the horse tries they realize they are fine. If sharpness or correction just makes them very nervous a different technique is called for.  The horse in the photos to the right was very low in confidence. She could not understand how to walk in as the others did.  As a result she was scared to jump and scared to cross water. These photos are the first couple of days of water work. I lead her by the water a few times, far enough away she wasn’t worried gradually getting her closer. When I had worked on the edge a while, she became thirsty and wanted a drink. She engaged with the water because she wanted to, not because I asked. Then I lunged her on the corner of the pond gradually letting her get closer. When she started to get her feet wet, we stopped for a while and then went back to it. After a little while she walked in. I schooled her and lunged her until she had a high standard of obedience. Then I lunged her over some jumps to be sure she understood. Gradually I lunged her over smaller to larger water entrances. She has never had a water stop cross country.

Horse have fears much like we do. Unjustified fear. This causes many issue such as spooking, kicking, bolting, and claustrophobic problems such as not getting in a trailer. By desensitizing the horse in a step by step way. Applying pressure until the horse does not react, then rewarding with the release of pressure and rubbing and scratching. Build the pressure a little at a time until the horse is no longer afraid.

Every year I deal with many horses with trailering issues. Some are just nervous, some have been in trailer wrecks and a few are just spoiled. Using a step by step process of advance and retreat I teach the horses cues to come forward, move over and back up. As they work near, on, and in the trailer they become comfortable and obedient.

The most important first step when problem solving is to make sure there is nothing physically wrong with the horse.

I work with vets, shoers and a variety of therapists to get  a horse ready for work. Obviously some lamenesses cannot be fixed. Often with a little time, imagination and a very tight program physical issues can be defeated or maintained. 

These are just a couple of examples of this type of specialized training. I educate horses that will not lead, you cannot catch, cannot mount, cannot bridle, cannot saddle, cannot clip, cannot tighten the girth, and cannot tie. I work with broncs, rearers, runaways, stoppers, lame horses, and horses with balance and coordination issues. By making small progressive steps I can work these horse so we; horse, trainer, rider, and owner are as safe as any.

The vast majority of horses I work with go on to have real and successful jobs. Once the issue is gone they are mainstream horses with real value and potential.

Problem solving is regular training for horses with special needs, fears and learning disabilities. There are no gimmicks gadgets or special locations.

John Lyons and me at Equine Affaire working on an extremely cinchy horse.

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