Points of Partnership by Bob Jeffreys
I teach a form of natural horsemanship called "Partnership Training", as this column is entitled. The term "Partnership Training" is two-fold in meaning.
Firstly, we must treat our horses as partners, not pets. Horses are on average 1,000 lbs, are ten times stronger than us, and are at least ten times quicker in their movements. You must respect these facts and teach them manners in order to stay safe.
Remember, CONTROL = SAFETY = PLEASURE.
In most partnerships there is a proactive and a reactive partner.
If we're riding down the trail and our horse is jogging when we want to walk, running when we want to trot, eating grass when we want to move, etc; then the horse is the one making the decisions and we are reacting to them. We must reverse this cycle and become the proactive member of the partnership. Give him small jobs to do; every three or four seconds, ask for a "give" to the bit, or a step or two laterally. Walk around a tree just off the trail path, stop and back up a few steps while going down a hill, etc. Keep making small requests, and your horse won't have time to look for the "boogy man".Your safety is increased, and the practice time results in a higher level of performance.
The second half of "Partnership Training" involves learning to control individual parts of the horse rather than attempting to gain control of the whole horse all at once. We start with teaching the horse to give to the bit, which gains control of the jawbone. This is the basis of all that follows...if we pick up the right rein and start to remove the slack, our horse should start to move his jaw in the same direction. If we can control the nose, the rest of the horse usually will follow. If we have control of the front feet we can do our diagonals and start our side pass. If we can convince our horse to give us control of his "barrel" we shall be able to get him to move foward. If the horse's hip will move over when asked, we can disengage it when we require an emergency stop. If we are able to move the shoulders we can control leads, backups, and stops. In future articles I shall explain how we get the horse to turn over control of these parts, but for now I just wanted to let you know that if you can control one hair on the horse's body competely, you will be able to achieve great sucess in whatever you are teaching your partner.
Lastly, when we have conditioned our horses to recognise and respond to our requests it's important that we get out of their way and let them do their job. When they do, release the rein or the lead rope or whatever other pressure we had applied in order to make the request. This way,
we say "Thank you, that was the right answer". The release of pressure is the reward. The horse always needs reassurance that he did the right thing in order not to become confused or frustrated. If you ask for something really great and he gives it to you, be enthusiastic with your "Thank you, partner".
About the author...
Bob Jeffreys Horse Training
Bob Jeffreys had a successful career as an international oil trader, but his lifelong love of horses prompted him to build his ranch in 1991 and start his Horse Training and Riding facility. After successfully completing the John Lyons Certification Program, Bob started his own "Bob Jeffreys' Clinics" at his ranch. Due to the overwhelming popularity of his clinics and in response to participants' requests, "Bob Jeffreys' Clinics" are now held all over the country. Bob is one of those rare trainers who can intelligently and clearly articulate the conditioned response training method. His primary goal is to train the rider to train the horse. Rider-focused training teaches the rider how to communicate with his horse,, enabling horse and rider to continue the dialogue at home. Both return home enthusiastic and with a much deeper knowledge and appreciation of what they can accomplish together. (Select the photo to view more information)
Contact: Suzanne Sheppard
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Middletown, New York 10941
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This article was published on: January 2003. Last updated on:Today.