Training Advice from Our Professional
John Lyons Certified Horse Trainers

Consistency is the Key by Kay Cox
The key to getting better results, is to be sure that you, as the teacher, are very consistent in what you do while working around your horse.

Kay CoxRemember the old schoolrooms that had the map that pulled down over the front of the blackboards Now picture yourself as a student in that classroom and every day your teacher came in and wrote the daily lesson on the blackboard and made sure when your class entered that the map was up and not covering your lesson for the day. When you came in you looked at the blackboard so you could turn to the proper place in your schoolbooks and begin to read and discuss the proper lesson with your teacher. Everything runs smoothly and you are learning each day. Now suppose one day you come to class and the map is down, hiding your lesson plan for the day. Your teacher, who is distracted by another teacher, says to you, as she leaves the room to finish her discussion with the other teacher, "Class please look at the blackboard for your lesson and begin to read." Now, the teacher has asked you to do something that you should have been able to do, but because of the inconsistency of not being able to read the blackboard, you won't be able to respond properly to her request.

This is the same thing with your horse. He may know the routine, but is what you are asking of him being asked in a consistent manner? You have to remember that your horse does not know when he is and when he is not being "trained." By that, for example, I mean that every time you touch the reins and expect him to do something he should. But how many times have you been sitting talking with friends on your horse and maybe fidgeting with the reins, not really expecting your horse to do anything. Now the horse doesn't know the difference between when he is expected to react to the reins and when he is not and he may or may not respond and you let him slide this time because you really don't want him to do anything right now. So the next time you ask and expect a really good response, he may think you're just 'fidgeting' again. If this inconsistency continues, he becomes less and less properly responsive to the reins or becomes insensitive. All this because he doesn't know when it is necessary to respond or when it's OK not to respond ,if you don't make a specific request and follow through with that request every time you touch those reins.

Therefore, the key to getting better results, is to be sure that you, as the teacher, are very consistent in what you do while working around your horse. Remember he doesn't know when, or if, it's o.k. to not  respond to you. Make sure your requests are always followed through and you will find quicker, more exact, correct, responses from your Pal. –Kay Cox

About the author...
Kay Cox-K & L Ranch
Hi, this is me, and my companion Buster. I am thrilled to be on the net for the first time and hope lots of great connections are made here not just for me, but for all the horses and horse-people who are looking for specific types of knowledge, help, information, or just ways to have more fun! (Select the photo to view more information)
Contact: Kay Cox
1821 Keyes Road
Ramona, California 92065
Phone: 760-788-1603 Fax 760-788-1643

Bridling Tips by Diane St. Peter
Frequently, I will gently hold the horse's head to the side of his body, asking, not forcing, him to keep it there, like giving him a hug.

       I was shown the "correct" way to bridle a horse is to put the bridle in your right hand, raise the bridle up over your horse's head, hold and insert bit. Well that just didn't work for me. Many horses will throw their head up, or swing their head away from you.  Some even lower their head to the ground to avoid that dreadful thing.   What I've learned is to hold the bridle in my left hand with my right arm under the horse's chin, and my right hand over his nose. In this way I can keep his head up from trying to 'root', and the hand on his nose counteracts the tossing and swinging. 
       When working with a young horse, one who has never been bridled before, I first handle the head in the above manner without the use of the bridle.  Frequently, I will gently hold the horse's head to the side of his body, asking, not forcing, him to keep it there, like giving him a hug.  I begin to stroke his head and ask him to relax. This does a few things, first it gets the horse used to being touched and restrained just a little, it also puts the horse's head in a "calm down" position.
       Next I begin by softly massaging inside the horse's mouth with my fingers, I watch for him to lick, and quickly remove my fingers. He learns that it is OK for something foreign to enter in. Once the horse accepts this feeling, I am ready to add the bridle. I hold the bridle in my left hand and position the bit at the separation of the lips, holding it with the fingers of my right hand.  I ask the horse to lick again using my thumb to cue him, and when he is ready I insert the bit.  Easy does it, so as to not bump his teeth.  The trick to this is teaching the horse to "open wide".
       Using this method has been very successful for me. My horses see me coming with the bridle, and they begin to yawn.  They open wide and are very easy to bridle.
A word of caution: Removing the bridle is where most mistakes are made and why horses dislike bridles. When you remove the headstall from the ears, be sure to hold it up, and not drop the bit down onto the teeth. Keep the horse's nose downward, and when the horse opens wide and begins to lick, gently lower the bridle and let the horse "spit" the bit out. 
Psalm 37:4

About the author...
Hearts Desire Farm
Hello, my name is Diane St. Peter. In 1997 I graduated from the John Lyons Certification Program. Along with training horses, my husband and I operate a small breeding farm where we raise Old Style Morgan and Australian Shepherds. Originally from the state of Rhode Island, my husband and I traveled here to the Western Slope of Colorado in 1994, with our 6 children, 4 horses, and 3 dogs.  I look forward to meeting you! Psalm37:4 (Select the photo to view more information)
Contact: Diane St. Peter
2175 E Rd.
Delta, Colorado 81416
Phone: 970-874-5205

Baby Steps by Diane Sullivan
If your horse will not let his ears be handled but will allow you to pet his nose or face, start by petting his nose and being positive about it.

Diane SullivanOne of the most important concepts of the John Lyons method of working with a horse is the idea of breaking everything down into small increments. If your horse is having a hard time accepting some aspect of what you want or need him to do, it is important to take time to step back and assess the situation. Ask yourself, "What part of this task can I get the horse to perform successfully?" Start over again from a point where you can successfully get the horse to perform, and then build on it with small baby steps.

EXAMPLE: If your horse will not let his ears be handled but will allow you to pet his nose or face, start by petting his nose and being positive about it. Then, as you are petting his nose, quickly and lightly run your hand up his face toward his ears, then back down to his nose. The idea here is to be so quick and light that the horse has no time to react in a negative way. Continue petting, repeating this scenario until the horse reacts as if to say, "Oh gee, that really wasn't so bad. I guess I don't have to pull away." Gradually work your way in this manner toward the horse's ears. Work with one ear at a time. Be sure that when you actually touch the ear it is so quick and light at first that he has no time to react negatively. Then you can progressively make the touch longer and heavier. Any time the horse reacts by pulling away, go back to the previous step and work there some more.

This is a method that you can use in aspect of working with a horse. Start where you can be successful, then make a progression of baby steps toward your goal. If you are still not having good success, find a way to break down the steps even further. Each horse is an individual and each situation will be different. What worked like a charm on one horse may not necessarily work on the next horse. Stay flexible and creative in your work and you can make each lesson a success story for you and your horse.

About the author...
Diane Sullivan Horse Training
My name is Diane Sullivan and I live in Chugiak, Alaska. Chugiak is located 20 miles northeast of Anchorage in the south-central portion of the state. We are nestled between Cook Inlet and the Chugach Mountain Range, and so the riding here is diverse. I ride through lush mountain valleys, climb mountain ridges, cross rivers and streams, and skirt the beach at low tide, sometimes stretching rides past midnight during our long summer days. I hope you have as much fun with your horse as I do with mine. My emphasis is on teaching people to teach their horses. I hold riding clinics regularly throughout the summer as well as giving private lessons. I like to work with children and help 4-H groups as well as other groups with horse interests. (Select the photo to view more information)
Contact: Diane Sullivan
PO BOX 670272
Chugiak, Alaska 99567
Phone: 907-688-2250

Focus on the Little Things…Feeding by Jake Baker
A habit, by definition, is a behavior pattern that has become almost involuntary.

Jake BakerA habit, by definition, is a behavior pattern that has become almost involuntary. By establishing good horsemanship habits, even in the little things we take for granted, you will improve your horse's behavior.  Likewise, careless or inattentive behavior on your part can lead to sloppy or even dangerous "habits" in your horse.
Horse herds have a pecking order and the Alpha horse, typically a mare, runs the herd. When horses are fed by helicopter in the wild, they run to the feed, but when the Alpha horse approaches, they back away. The Alpha horse eats first and then allows the others to approach when she is finished.                                                                                                       
Most of us are guilty of dumping our horse's feed and walking away.  This tells the horse that he or she is the Alpha horse and that we are scared to stay near. If this becomes a habit, we put both ourselves and others at risk. A horse's natural defense against a suspected food thief is biting, kicking, striking, and bumping. 
When you feed your horse, stay close by while they eat.  Use this time to brush them down, pick their hooves, move them away from their feed, etc. By doing this every time  you feed, you will establish that you are the Alpha horse and that you are in charge.
Focusing on the "Little Things" will help make a positive impact on the big things.

About the author...
Jake Baker "Ground to Saddle"
Ground to Saddle Training Methods: My main goal is to educate people through helping them train their horses. I offer you an opportunity to learn from my mistakes and benefit from the knowledge I have pieced together from hours of work with other trainers and “backyard” horse owners. I believe it is unfair to send a horse to a trainer, where it will learn how to perform for that trainer, but knowing it will not get the same kind of handling and treatment from its owner once it returns home. The horse is left confused. For this reason, I determined to be a teacher rather than a trainer. I will not train a horse unless the owner also takes the time necessary to understand the methods and to build a solid, working relationship with the horse. Horses were put on earth by God for our enjoyment. Let me help you start enjoying your horse more than ever before. (Select the photo to view more information)
Contact: Jake Baker
1400 Post Oak Blvd Suite # 800
Houston, Texas 77056
Phone: 713-626-7411

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This article was published on: February 2003. Last updated on:Today.