Step-By-Step Training Programs

Are they for you?

I say...YES !!!

 

Almost every single day I receive an email from a relatively new horse owner asking for advice. Sometimes the emails are from people who have had horses when they were younger and now, after all the kids are grown and out of the house, they want to return to the passion of their youth...horses. A few emails come from horse owners who, after years of doing things the traditional way, want to learn about 'natural horsemanship' and a better way of being with horses.

 

DENNIS REIS

'Freedom Course' Box Set

www.reisranch.com

After answering some of their specific questions, I usually get around to answerng the one question that almost everyone seems to eventually ask; where to start. And most of the horse owners emailing me are always surprised when I tell them that they should invest the time and dedication in studying one of the step-by-step programs by one of the major clinicians.

Now before I go further, let me state this here and now...

I DO NOT have any programs to sell. Nor do I tell people that they should pay me big money to have me help them. I have no programs to sell. No tapes, No DVDs. No polished marketing. Nothing. Nor am I going to tell you that you need to buy my personal mentor's video series because they promoted me to 'certified trainer' status.

 

 

For the horse owners mentioned above, I try to explain as best as I can that these 'step-by-step training programs are extremely helpful in getting them the foundation that they need to create willing partnerships.

Regardless of how much I promote the benefits of these programs and try my best to offer sound advice, I am always met with the resistance in the form of the same old tired rhetoric. Yes, thats right. I have heard it all before, but yet each person tends to respond in the exact same way, almost verbatum, repeating the same things they have heard others say.

What do they say when I suggest to them that they should invest the time and dedication studying a clinician's program?

"Well, I dont believe in training programs. I believe in taking a little from here and a little from there"

"Each horse is an individual and what works on one horse may not work on another."

"I don't like all that marketing and expensive stuff. I dont want to follow them like I am in a cult or something."

"I had a friend who "tried" the program and it didn't work. In fact, it made their horse worse."

"I know some people who had to bring their horse to a trainer to un-do all that training program stuff and "fix" their horse."

"You don't need all that stuff, all you need is Feel, Timing and Balance."

 

JOHN LYONS

Ground Control Manual and Riding Manual

www.johnlyons.com

 

I guess the best thing I can do here is to respond to each of these statements to put to rest this issue of training programs.

"Well, I dont believe in training programs. I believe in taking a little from here and a little from there"

Two questions come to my mind when I hear this....Why are you still having problems with your horse, and why are you emailing me?

When I hear these reponses to my advice the things that come to mind are these....

The horse owners do not want to invest time in their partnership. They dont want to put in the work it takes. They are looking for a quick-fix magic pill that will transform their horse. They are not truly or sincerely dedicated and commited to their horse. They lack discipline.

Ooh. Hard pill to swallow isn't it? But it is the absolute truth. Want to know how I know? Because I was once there myself. And I had to struggle through changing my patterns of behavior and become more disciplined in raising my level of horsemanship for my horse.

Let me let you in on a little secret...These 'training programs' were never ever designed to "train your horse". They have nothing to do with "horse training". They are designed to train YOU !!!

That's right! As cheesey as it sounds these programs are about training you and raising your level of horsemanship to meet your partner's needs instead of constantly dragging the horse down to your level.

People who make this statement to me are telling me that they are not people who can commit to finish anything that they start. They usually never have enough discipline ot see things through. When the going gets tough, or they get questioned or criticized by others at the barn, they bail out! They want short cuts and the big red "EASY" button.

Folks, there are no short cuts to good horsemanship. Period. Most of us DEMAND full attention and respect from our horses when we are with them, yet we short cut our own responsibility to raising our level of horsemanship in order to become effective, well-respected and trusted partners for our horses.

The clinicans who produce these step-by-step training programs have spent dedicated and committed hours, days, weeks and possibly years developing their system of teaching their horsemanship so that YOU can easily learn how to raise your level of horsemanship.

PAT AND LINDA PARELLI

Level One Program

www.parelli.com

 

I have most of these programs in my personal library at home and let me fill you in on another little nugget of information....no where else in the horse world are you going to find more useful knowledge concerning the mental and emotional components of horses than these programs. While 90% of horse books and videos deal with the physical component of the horse, these programs offer an abundance of invaluable information concerning how the horse's mind works, what makes them tick and how we can best use that to our advantage when creating willing partnerships.

Horse 'training' (I dont like using that word but I have to here to illustrate my point) is NOT about the physical component of the horse. It is about the mental and emotional components of the horse. If you make a request and the horse responds willing and correctly, it is because it has yielded mentally and emotionally before it responded physically.

Likewise, if the horse responds with something other than what we deem as desirable behavior, it has already made that decision mentally and emotionally (for whatever reasons) and so the outcome is what we see them do physically.

 

My point is this, these programs prepare YOU for being better horsemen and horsewomen. They give you the foundational tools necessary to grow and to add to later on as you study other disciplines. The people I am describing here, the ones who never finish what they start, are the ones who want to run before they can walk and when they fall, they blame the art of running instead of laying blame where it truly lies.

I have emailed and posted on my online bulletin board until I am blue in the face. If someone, anyone, would take the time to study one of the programs from one of the clinicians listed in this article...if they complete just the entry level study...and if they never ever studied that clinician's more advanced training programs ... I believe that they would still be light years ahead of a lot of horse owners still using traditional methods. I truly believe that.

Once you have this foundation, and you are well versed in the mental and emotional components of horse psychology and herd dynamics, THEN I believe that you will be in a better position to go out and learn a little from here and a little from there. Why? Because you will be better able to break down what you see and learn, analyze it, and understand the principles and concepts behnd the methods you are seeing.

Friends, this is about making a commitment. This is about changing your old habits and instilling new actions with a new discipline. Please read through my article entitled "Martial Arts and Horsemanship".

BOB JEFFRIES

Self-Help Series For Riders New and Returning To Horses

www.bobjeffries.com

 

I will go out on a limb and state that if you are not willing to dedicate yourself to increasing your knowledge of horses and raise your level of horsemanship, then you will never have a true willing partner and you will always continue to have problems with horses. Somehow the horse will never amount to what you expect (or demand) of it. And you will continue to blame the horse.

 

"Each horse is an individual and what works on one horse may not work on another."

Absolutely correct. Absolutely incorrect.

WHAT?!

Yep, thats what I said.

If someone is attempting to help you strictly by teachng you "technique", then the above statement is correct. Each horse is indeed an individual and some have better learning curves than others. Some are better suited for certain tasks than others. So I may take...hmmm...let's call it "Technique A" and try to apply it to one hundred horses. Out of those hundred, I will have 50 which the technique will work on. I may have another 30 which it will eventually work on but with a some problems and a alot of effort. Out of the remaining 20 horses, 10 will almost never get it or be so mediocre that it just wouldnt be worth the time and effort working on it any longer. And the last 10 horses will just not be able to do the technique for whatever reasons.

Techniques put you in a frame of sorts. They set a paradigm and as long as you operate with that set paradigm, everythng usually runs smoothly. This is a double sided coin for beginners. While techniques work for us because they help to teach us to be more disciplined, they do not work 100% of the time with horses.

However, these programs do indeed work for us and our partners because of one thing....are you ready?

Yes, each horse is indeed an individual and each has a different personality, talent, skill, attributes, heart and desire, learning curve and confirmation... but...

THEY ALL SPEAK HORSE !!!!

They all speak the exact same language. Thats what makes all the clinicians in the world so successful with horses. Regardless if you have an Egyptian Arabian, a Russian Warmblood, a Gypsy Cob, a Mogollian Pony, an Australian Brumby, a Peruvian Paso, or a an American Mustang, they all speak the exact same langauge!!! And that language is H-O-R-S-E !!!

The language of horses is made up of body language defined and ruled by certain principles and concepts. If you have a clear understanding of the principles and concepts of horse psychology and herd dynamics, then you have the alphabet of the entire language of every horse in the world.

Yep, "techniques" will fail you eventually, but the principles and concepts will never fail you.

 

SHANE AND MEREDITH RANSLEY

Quantum Savvy Lesson Pack

www.quantumsavvy.com

 

"I don't like all that marketing and expensive stuff. I dont want to follow them like I am in a cult or something."

Hey. no where in any of the clinician's materials do they ever say that wearing a shirt with their logo on it will make you a better horseman or horsewoman. There are no contracts. No obligations (other than to yourself and your horse). Dont let that bother you. They need to make a living just like you adn I need to make a living. You buy and drink Coke or Pepsi but do they force you to wear their merchandise. Does Coke taste better if you are wearing a shirt with the logo on it? Of course not. Look around you...all of the world, in every single facet of our lives there is an overabundance of over-marketing and advertising blitzes. Even here on the internet with pop-ups!

 

Let me give you an example of how we hear others spout off tired rhetoric and we repeat it without ever doing any research on our own.

I will eventually get emails or speak to someone in person who states that they would never use one of those silly orange "carrot sticks". They are not into that cultish following...yadda yadda yadda.....but then they go on to proudly say that they use a white "handy stick" from another clinician! Folks, its the same exact thing. It's just a different color and a different name on it. Its all in the marketing and has nothing to do with the horsemanship value of it. Dont believe it's all the same thing?

Do a search of all the clinicians...let me save you a lot of time...go to the "Links" page on my website. You will find over 115 clinician's links. Start going through the websites and you will see the same exact 4' long stick with the 6' long yacht braid string. They go by the names, Carrot Stick, Handy Stick, Training Stick, Training Wand, Flag Stick, Horseman's Stick, Licorice Stick, Apple Stick, Swagger Stick, etc., etc. They come in Orange, White, Blue, Dark Blue, Purple, Black, Yellow, Red, and I just read an article on Stacy Westfall in the newest issue of John Lyons' Perfect Horse Magazine. Know what she had in her hand in the pictures? Yep, one of those sticks. Know what color it is? PINK!

I have had numerous peope tell me that Parelli's 7 Games didnt work on their horse and they thought that the 'Games' were silly, but their horse responded well to Clinton Anderson's Ground Control Program. Know what? They are virtually the exact same thing, taught in virtually the exact same order!!! They are just called by different names. Check out Parelli's Friendly Game. It is Anderson's Touch and Rub exercise.....Check out Parelli's Yo-Yo Game. It is Anderson's Outback Exercise.

Dont get caught up in all the internet competition between well-meaning students and followers of each of these clinicians. Nothing says you have to buy anything other than the entry level home study program, a good halter and lead rope...and thats it.

As far as being a cult-like follower...well, we all do alot of that anyway don't we? Oh no? Don't thnk so? How about all you fanatical football fans?! Wearing your favorite team's jersey, painting your faces, putting bumper stickers on your car, getting your VISA Card with the team's logo on it, screensavers with a picture of the team in action, autographed footballs, football cards, trash cans, telephones, coffee cups, hats, socks, shirts, windbreakers and jogging suits, and cold weather jackets. Need I say more?! But you dont want to be thought of as being cult-like by following a particular clinician, right?! HA!

And how about all you NASCAR fans?! Oh please, you are the most fanatical of any sport when it comes to spending the bucks on pure merchandising!!!

Know what? I can't afford a lot of the high priced materials either and I am not ashamed to admit that I have bought a lot of my personal equipment, books and videos off of Ebay.

 

"I had a friend who "tried" the program and it didn't work. In fact, it made their horse worse."

This goes back to the first section of this article. The key here is the word "tried". They didnt invest in it, they 'tried' it. This goes back to not being commited to the true goal, raising your own level of horsemanship to meet the needs of your horse. Instead, just like anything else, they wanted that quick fix. They were still had that 'horse training' mentality.

I have stated in other articles that we, as human beings and especially as Americans, have created this fast food mentality. We want everything NOW. That fast food mentality spills over to every facet of our lives including our horsemanship. No one wants to spend the time actually studying anything.

We we 'try' something instead of 'studying' it, we are trying to run before we can walk. Then when we fall down, we blame the art of running.

Once again, I have alot of these programs in my personal library here at home. Know what? They are all equally as good. And the horsemanship priinciples taught in these programs are solid foundations that can be used regardless of whether your horse is young or old, mare or gelding.

Want to know another thing? Every now and then I go through them and refresh myself. If I go through a plateau period where I feel like I am getting a little stale, I re-read through some of the classic horsemanship books in my library and go spend a little time watching my favorite clinicians on tv or video. Always looking for a little nugget of information that will inspire me to get off of my butt and back to sharing my passion for horses.

CLINTON ANDERSON

Riding With Confidence Series

Gaining Respect and Control on the Ground

www.downunderhorsemanship.com

 

"I know some people who had to bring their horse to a trainer to un-do all that training program stuff and "fix" their horse."

There are always those people who have "been into horses" for years and years and always claim to constantly have to "fix" someone's horse who had been trained using a step-by-step program. And if you listen closely enough, their disdain is usually aimed only at one particular clinician. It seems that this person has an enormous constant flow of customers who bring their horses to him after trying a certain clinician's program. While there are exceptions to every single rule, I simply don't believe half the malarky these type of people tell me. In fact, I have heard the same old stories so much that I actually get bored with them.

On the flip side of that very same coin though, how many horses have all the clinicians helped who have been started and trained by traditional methods? C'mon, we know the number of horses helped by all the clinicians traveling out there must easily number in the thousands.

My belief is this, if anyone tells you that they are having to "fix" every single horse that has been trained by a step-by-step program, I say they are full of it! And please feel free to quote me to them.

 

"You don't need all that stuff, all you need is Feel, Timing and Balance."

With the current fad of Californio/Vaquero style of horsemanship, we have a lot of cowboys and horsemen coming out of the woodwork who are spouting off this bit if information.

There are several problems with this type of thinking. One, most of these horsemen and cowboys have years and years of experience working on ranches and competing in rodeos. They forget that the majority of horse owners in america are backyard horse owners. People just like you and me. Parents who have a horse or two for their children's 4H. Or folks who haven't had a horse in 30 years and who are now getting back into horses. Or just plain beginning horse owners.

What these cowboys and horsemen seem to forget is that not everyone grew up on a ranch and dont understand about feel, timing and balance, and its so easy to just spout those terms off and seem so superior to everyone else.

But can any of them...any one of the clincians actually "teach" you what feel timing and balance are? Can they teach it in a way that you can go home and use it effectively on with your horses. Will you know how to utilize feel timing and balance in every situation you encounter with your horse? NO WAY! Why Not?! Because remember, in this example, you are a beginner. You have no clue about the proper handling of horses except what you see, read, or have been told by others at your boarding stable. So you beleive that horses should be kept in a stall, and you should spur and kick them to go and pull on their mouth to stop. You should have a long shank curb bit in their mouth for control and if you need more, then you should buy a bigger bit. You should run your horse around in one mindless circle after another either in a round pen or on a long line while you crack a whip behind them to keep them running.

GaWaNi Pony Boy

The Simple Truth About Horses

www.ponyboy.com

 

LESLIE DESMOND

American Horsemanship For Young and Old

www.lesliedesmond.com

 

So can these cowboys teach the beginning horse owner about the intricasies of the ever elusive and intangible "FEEL"? Can they teach you in one weekend or one clinic timing and balance and make you a horseman or horsewoman? Well, no. Not really. So how then are you supposed to come home and continue to refine what you have learned? How to you go about continuing your education? What if your work, school or finances limit the ability to spend with your horse at a clinic?

EVERYONE should have continuing access to horsemanship experience and knowledge. EVERYONE should have this access twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. The only way to learn about horsemanship and be able to adjust our lives to accomodate our passion for horses, is to have a program which we can take home and study.

You will notice, if you read enough horse magazines or watch enough of RFD-Tv and HorseTv, that the only ones who keep insisting that you only need Feel, Timing and Balance are the cowboys and horsemen who have a lifetime of experience around horses. Once again, they completely ignore or forget about the 50 year old grandmother who has purchased her first horse. Most of them forget that there are hundreds of thousands of 'English' riders out there who have no desire to ride western or be cowboys. What about those English riders? They are forgotten. Watch RFD-Tv. 95% of the equine related shows and clinicians come from a western background and most do the same round penning techniques or one hour col starting demonstrations.

And here is a little secret...as high and mighty as they may seem to be, most of these cowboys and horsemen WERE NOT even practicing anything close to resembling any form of natural horsemanship until some years ago. Some may have roughly 20 years of this 'natural horsemanship' under their belt. And thats a lifetime of experience but can they teach it effectively? A lot of these clinicians you see at the big expos and horse fairs have bene doing this less than a few years. So dont look to them as if they are some sort of horse training God.

 

Friends, we could debate this issue for ever and I could write detailed volumes here, but time and space do not allow me to continue on.

Let's go back a minute.....

If you are a beginner to horses, if you haven't had a horse in years, if you are looking for a better way to be with horses and are wanting to create relationships and partnerships with that one special horse, if you are willing to dedicate yourself and invest YOURSELF into raising your level of horsemanship, then a step-by-step training program is for you.

Remember, this is NOT about 'training' your horse. Leave that attitude and idea out of your head. These programs are about teaching YOU to become a more knowledgable and disciplined horseman and horsewoman.

Which program is better or the best? Hee hee, do you really think I am going to answer that here in this article?! Honestly, I do have my personal favorites and I do have them in sort of a ranking order but it has nothing to do with which is best, it has strictly to do with who I believe gives you more bang for the buck, and which clinician best addresses certain issues.

Yes, step-by-step training programs are for you! And you should VERY SERIOUSLY consider using one and taking a little time off from your regular horse recreation time in order to raise your level and become a better partner for your horse.

If the average lifespan of a horse is ...let's say...25 years, and my partner "Desi" is five years old, that means I have 20 (or more) years to spend with her. Why not invest 30 or 60 days learning somethng new and refining my horsemanship so we can thoroughly enjoy playing together through the next 20 years...?!

Forget the hype....forget about the tv shows...forget about the merchandising....

THIS IS ABOUT YOU AND YOUR HORSE!!!

PERIOD!!!

 

Yours In Horsemanship.....

Michael and Desi