Spring is in the air and around the blog sphere the topics are revolving around the same thing that are occupying my time...foaling mares and getting back to "training" on that horse that has set for most of the winter.
Pony Girl went to a Parelli clinic and posted about her experience. Mikey jumped on trusty Monte and took a tour around the neighborhood, sans any tack. (I impressed myself by learning how to link this morning-LOL). Impressive Mikey-I haven't done that for awhile and I can honestly say that I have never done it outside of an arena.
Now I have nothing against most of the clinicians that are on the circuit today. I like to watch them, read their horse's response and see if there is anything that I can add to my training program. Most of these guys are really good horseman. The good ones are capable of reading horses and getting results. They are also capable of communicating on a level that ordinary people can understand. The most popular ones are victims of their own success. Parelli's program now is nothing like it was when he first started. Clinton Anderson is changing too. There are others in that boat.
Somewhere along the line these clinics stop being about the horse and become about the masses of people who want to learn how to communicate with their horses better. In my humble opinion, most of these people will never get it. They fail to learn the single most important facet in horse training...Learning how to read a horse. Therein lies the magical, mystical connection some people have with their horse or any horse they come in contact with. Knowing how to do this, whether you are aware you do or not, tells you when to approach, when to back away, when a horse is being a snot or when they just aren't getting it. Reading a horse is about the easiest technique to learn-if you just slow down to WATCH AND FEEL. All horses relax the same way; bodies relax, head lowers, eyes get "soft", they may lick their lips, they become putty in your hands. All horses get angry/irritated in the same way; the eyes get hard, the body stiffens, the mouth tightens, the tail twitches.
I had to learn how to read a horse the same as anyone else. I can still remember when and who made me aware of this process and it was years after I had ever started breaking colts...
Do you know that I broke my first horse twenty-six years ago at age 12. He was a bay gelding that my dad gave me and his name was Zip. I did not want Zip to be snubbed to the post, have a leg tied up, sacked out, saddled and the "buck" rode out of him the way everyone broke horses in this area at the time. So I used to sneak down to the corral, put Zip into a small sorting pen and climb on his back, with nothing on him and ride him around. I was "breaking" him, my way. After a few days of this I decided to show dad that he didn't need to scare my horse with all of this other stuff, so I took him to the corral to show off my great training ability. You know what? I got my butt spanked for that one.
Now that I am a parent, I realize that I must have scared my dad to death. He wasn't thinking about what I had accomplished. He was thinking about how he could have walked to the corral and found my broken body in the pen with that barely halter-broke, 3y/o. As they say, ignorance is bliss...
I wished I could say that my attempt worked but Zip still needed to be broke to saddle and although my dad skipped the snubbing and leg-tying up routine, it was pretty western by today's standards. Shortly after Zip cut his foot on some old wire in the yard and ended up taking a one-way trip. Again, twenty-six years ago, people had different ideas of what to do with a crippled horse.
The one good thing that came out of that little experience was that dad did let us kids try different methods of starting colts. Actually, my brother's and I thought we were pretty innovative. We "round-penned" our colts, sacked them out pretty good for a few days and saddled them in the cattle chute, so we didn't have to rope, choke, snub and tie hind legs up. We were quite modern-LOL.
And then I went to college to get my Equine Science degree...