Trainers Paddock-Feeling & Listening to Your Horse

When people begin to learn to dance they are taught the steps of the dance without the music. It all starts with choreography and the music is added later.

That always comes to mind when people ask me if I could teach them to train their horse. I always felt that there was more to horse training than teaching the steps to someone. I could have done just that, but I didn’t, because eventually you have to hear and feel the music or you’re not going to be very good at the dance.

It seems, of late years, the horse world is full people teaching other people the “choreography” of training horses without the “music”. Training a horse is not just a formula that works on all horses, because, just like people being instructed in dance, horses have different personalities as well as strong and weak points. Someone can give you the formula for training your horse, but you can’t be successful if you don’t know your horse well enough to know his strong points and weak points.

When people would ask me if I could teach or train them to be able to train their horse my answer, as a rule, was no, particularly when they were fairly new horse owners. In my opinion, it takes years of experience with horses to be able to train them and, even then, not everybody is capable of actually training a horse. I would explain to them that the first, and most important, thing they needed to do was to really get to know their horse. Listen to his “music”.

I would tell them that they needed to build a relationship of trust and friendship with their horse. I also suggested that they should start spending time with their horse so they could get to know the horse. I would tell them to just spend the afternoon with their horse, not necessarily riding or schooling the horse. I would tell them to just give the horse a good grooming then take the horse for walk on the lead line and let them graze, and just talk to the horse. I suggested they watch their horse in the pasture with other horses, so they could learn about the horse’s personality , learn where he was in pecking order of the herd. I would tell them that just hanging around talking to, and watching, their horse sometimes was better than riding them. The more you know about your horse the better partnership you will build with him.

If you know how the horse is feeling it makes it much easier to solve problems the two of you may have in your partnership. You need to listen to your horse and have a feel for what he’s thinking before you try to teach him anything.

If you want to enjoy your horse and dance with him then you need to listen to the “music” as well as know the steps. I believe that anyone can teach the “choreography” , but not many can teach you to feel the “music”. So, perhaps, before you make the decision to try to teach your horse some new steps you should be sure you know how to feel the horse’s “music” before you start the lesson.