Horse Body Language

   
     
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From John Lyons Trainer Keith Hosman

 
 

Stop Bucking Study Course [Downloadable PDF]
A Downloadable Book

A sample from Day 4:

Now, where exactly, during that one bazillionth of a second did I have time to do the "The Calm Down Cue"? I didn't have time to think the words, let alone do it.

I should have been doing the Calm Down Cue the entire time we were walking because I knew this horse's history of shenanigan-pulling. The horse had told me when she was jiggy in the preceding days that she couldn't yet be trusted. It's my bad, as they say. I should have never let my guard down.

What I learned that day was the importance of being a proactive rider. You with the bucking horse take heed: When you're riding any horse that isn't dead broke, you've got to keep making requests to keep that horse focused on you. When the horse spooks and you react you are, by definition, a reactive rider. If you wouldn't bet your collar bone on the performance of your horse, then you are duty bound to keep that horse occupied at all times. That doesn't mean an intense workout at all times - that means keep making requests to keep the horse focused: drop the head, move the shoulder, soften the neck, etc. Had I been doing these things that day, the horse would have had it's mind on me, not the spooky object. Had it still seen the scary monster, I would have been in a better position (both physically and mentally) to react by deflecting it's movements with a disengagement before it erupted, not after.

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Whoever Moves First Loses

By Keith Hosman, John Lyons Certified Trainer

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Whoever Moves First Loses

Discipline problems vanish when your horse sees you as boss; here's training for a rainy day that puts you back in charge.

Does your horse bang impatiently on the stall at feeding time? Or lead poorly or bite or buck or kick out during a speed transition or drop his head to eat grass or forget you exist when whinnying to his buddies or "get cinchy" or act the fool for the farrier...? Does your horse see you more as servant than lord of the manor?

Or maybe you're looking for some effective training to do on a rainy day? Maybe something you can teach in a barn aisle when somebody else is using the arena?

For those of you who answered "aye," I'm going to describe a test and then a fix. Some of you will test your horses, they'll pass and you can move on to something else. I hazard to guess, however, that the vast majority of you will find that a little tune up is necessary. The purpose of today's work is to diagnose just how much control we have versus what we think we have; to wrest back control we might have unconsciously ceded, to improve "manners," and to boost our training in general.

If your horse does something (to you) that he'd never do to his mother, you've got a respect issue. Each of the problems listed above comes from a horse that doesn't see you as boss. More importantly, these horses are owned by folks (that'd be you) who either don't realize they're being chumped or know they're being played and don't know what to do about it. Simply put, ya gotta reset that relationship; ya get back to being the boss.

In the round pen, we gain respect by controlling the horse's direction, by not allowing him to stop moving, through speed control, etcetera. At feeding time we enforce respect by not allowing him to crowd us. When leading we keep our positioning by demanding he be polite. We accept no slips, we maintain a zero tolerance policy and we do so because we know that it's the little things that add up to the total package. (Right?)

As common sensical as this sounds, you'd be amazed how often somebody will ask (at a clinic) how to fix a behavioral issue - and swear they've been strict with their horses - and yet I can see several screaming signals from the horse that he's spoiled, spoiled, spoiled. The owner, no disrespect if I'm describing uh, you, is wholly oblivious.

There's a little something we can do to take back (sustain, or solidify) our rightful spot as leader and it comes down to this...

 
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Read previous article: 6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Training

Read next article: When Buying a Horse: 5 First-Timer Tips

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   Meet the author:  

Keith Hosman
John & Josh Lyons Certified
Clinician and Trainer

Utopia, TX (Hill Country of San Antonio)

Keith Hosman is based in San Antonio, TX and is available for clinics, lessons and training. He frequently travels to Los Angeles, CA and Kansas City, MO where he partners with fellow clinician Patrick Benson for clinics and demonstrations. You can find him on Google+ and Reddit

| Horsemanship101.com

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To see articles and training products related to the article you just read, see the following topics:

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Trust - see Respect and Trust
WESN Lesson - also see Directional Control

See over 300 equestrian-related training topics

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Lyons Training 101: Issue Thirty-three, Part 1
"Horse Body Language: Whoever Moves First Loses"
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