My Training Philosophy (or "How I  Got Where I Am Today"):

My original interest (starting at age 2) was in any horse/any time/anywhere.  As I got old enough to earn money, I spent it all at the local rental stables.  (Here's a  horse for sale, Mom!!)  When I got in college I started "real" riding lessons with an old British gentleman.  I slowly migrated from Hunt Seat to Combined Training to Dressage (after I became convinced I'd rather not go rocketing cross-country).

Because I had trouble keeping my left shoulder independent of my right hip etc, I started driving —at least in a carriage I could just sit there. True, but the horse still needs the dressage training. So that's where my training system started -- how to teach the horse dressage when you know what you want but you can't ride well enough to explain it. I call it Dressage from the Ground (unless it's for someone that wouldn't identify very well with that -- like the Colorado cowboy students I had one time).

Also, I was frustrated with going to clinics and having them be able to do things with my horse but then I couldn't. So I developed a technique that makes up for the handler's inexperience, it has a built-in lag time, a time the horse is okay while you think what to do, so that you don't have to be so quick, the "quick" that only comes with experience -- because how do most of us get that much experience when we only train the one horse usually. And I teach the person, not the horse -- because when you get home, you're the one that has to be able to do it.

There's a technique at the core of it, but it's really basically a way of thinking about the relationship, a way of learning how to get through to the horse, how to establish a situation suitable for learning. There's body language in it, and understanding of the natural instincts and herd dynamics. It's learning to watch the horse to see what he needs from you.

I really should work on a quick and dirty explanation of what it is, so I can "market" it. I started a book at one point but then my computer crashed and it didn't seem worth it to start over. It was getting awfully long. (But I suppose that's what editors are for?) I'm half-heartedly working on a video now, getting footage, but I know I'll have to get concise for the sound track. Let's see, the nitty-gritty is:

(1) The horse has to be relaxed in order to learn, in order to cope.

(2) Habit and routine are relaxing, new things and new situations are scary. After all, there might be lions.

(3) But if you establish youself as trustworthy enough to be the leader, he can look to you to take care of things and can afford to stay relaxed, will trust you when you reassure him, or ask him to do something.

(4) Then you have to always explain what you want him to do in small enough pieces that he knows what you mean or else he can't stay relaxed about it.

So, like I said, it's mostly a way of thinking. The part that makes it possible for the ordinary backyard person is the technique/equipment I "invented" that makes it easier to "explain" what you want and to encourage relaxation. I need a catchy name for it too, to "sell" it.

I used to be a Technical Delegate for Combined Driving. I did it in order to promote the sport in the NW -- I was the first one, only one for quite a while, helped people design their courses, get the competitions started. I'm not tempermentally suited to the job though -- competitions are too stressful, everyone's on the verge of divorce when I get there. I really like the clinics though.

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