Ask the Trainer: Horse Skills

Summer 2004

 

 

Ask the Trainer: Horse Skills
Linda Adkins
Professional Instructor and Trainer 
Good Form Equestrian Sports
Norristown, PA

Linda competed as a professional trainer and instructor for over 20 years. She specialized in jumpers and eventing while training in multiple disciplines throughout the equine industry.
 

ENTHUSIASM WHILE TRAINING

As a working student, I rode as much as possible. I was willing to train in any discipline (jumpers, hunters, eventers, racehorses, western). But my screaming goal was to be the best.

And that meant my horses had to be the best, too. So any move they made, especially out in public, I considered to be a personal reflection of my own training abilities. Back then, I cringed if they made an error. I took it personally. Today, I recognize these errors merely as part of their necessary growth.

The people who taught me how to get horses going back then were “force” trainers. That meant we fiercely overwhelmed them, until they did it our way. It involved meanness and abuse, which to this day, I will not tolerate.

A horse that is force trained reacts because he is afraid of being beaten, kicked, or snapped in the mouth. He knows he will be punished in some way, even if it is the rider’s fault. He will wheel, dart away, or try to leave the area due to fear.

Today when I team up with a horse, I want his ears pricked, a squeal of delight, and a partnership developed from long-term, quiet work ethics. Relaxed, eager, enjoyable and happy.

Training is more than a behavior being performed. It is a physical response recognized as confidence, willingness, cheerful enthusiasm, and that intangible, sought after, “glad to do it for ya!” attitude. I ask, my mount gives, and we grin and look forward to the next question together.
What could possibly be more fun?

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