July 2021 – Mid Month Update


Holistic Horsekeeping
How to have a healthy happy horse.


In This Issue:

1. Riding Verses Training
2. Holistic Horsekeeping Resources


1. Riding verses Training

You know the saying “I am not a doctor but I play one on TV.” That is the way I feel about being a “trainer”. I have been to many clinics and have worked with some great instructors but I am not a horse trainer. I try to be clear in my signals and to some extent can channel my mentors but my horses will tell you I am not so good. 

Tanq waiting in the barn, Photo by Madalyn Ward, DVM

So, I have to make up for my lack as a trainer by building strong relationships with my horses. I want them to know that they will not be ever punished for doing something “wrong”. I only ask them to try as much as I do. The other day I set out with a purpose to help my Shao Yin mare, Martini, learn how to stand tied at the trailer while I rode my Tai Yin gelding, Tanq, where she could not see him. We have been working up to this by tying her and riding around the back side of the trailer and then back into sight before she got too concerned. 

Martini was getting pretty good at munching her hay and waiting for Tanq to reappear so I decided that this was the big day to attempt a full disappearing act. I went out the gate and rode Tanq to the other side of the house and then back into sight. We are talking seconds here before he came back but you would have thought we had dropped off the face of the earth. Martini was freaking out and Tanq was no better. Tanq got all braced and considering he is built like a 55 gallon drum I was struggling to keep the saddle in place while he turned himself into a pretzel to keep his head towards Martini. 

I managed to get Tanq to focus on me enough to make a full turn around the house with some straightness and called it good. In the meantime, Martini had almost pulled out of her tie ring and was still fretting. I feel I have good relationships with both Tanq and Martini but I was thinking it was just me working at this exercise. Tanq, as a Tai Yin, is a one person horse and I am not his person. When he is with his person he is totally focused but, in truth, he would rather be with Martini than me. Despite this he is usually a very good boy. 

Martini, as a Shao Yin, is very sensitive and insecure without Tanq. I am working to build our relationship so she is able to be confidant with me. She is getting better when we ride away from Tanq but me riding Tanq away from her is not good. I really need both of them to be okay apart if I am going to be able to take them anywhere and do fun stuff. 

Lacking in training skills I decided to give both of them a good talking to. I told them I was trying very hard to do right by them and I really wanted us to be able to go do more stuff together. I just needed some basic things from them. I told Martini that I needed to know if I tied her up she would still be there when I returned. I told Tanq that if he got upset I needed him to focus on me and stay straight so the saddle did not turn on his back. I did not feel this was asking too much. 

I don’t know what they heard or understood but I do know that since then I have seen a shift in both of them and in me. They are both more relaxed. and I am less concerned about any agendas. I have not tried to take Tanq outside the pasture again but Martini is showing little concern when I work him on the side of the trailer for more extended periods where he is out of sight. Tanq is responding much better to my legs and staying straight under me most of the time. 

Training is kind of a one way deal. The horse is told what to do and expected to do it. Assuming the trainer has good skills this works out okay for the horse. Riding and relationship is different. It is supposed to be a two way street where everyone has a good time. Yes, miscommunications happen but nothing that can’t be worked out if all parties are on board with the same goal of enjoying each other. I will always continue to improve my skills so I can send clear messages to my horses but I also believe they felt my intention when I got very clear and that works too. 

Knowing the temperament type of your horse will help you build a relationship. You will have a better idea of what your horse needs from you. I know with Tanq it is important that I acknowledge that he works for me even though he likes someone else better. For Martini I know to take my time to help build her confidence. Both my horses are good matches for me but if they were not I would look to find better people for them rather than try and force them to fit my needs. We have our moments but for the most part we all appreciate each other. 

For more information about Temperament Types and to learn what type your horse is visit: https://horsetemperament.com/

2. Holistic Horsekeeping Resources

Make this the year you commit to deepening your understanding of your horse and his/her needs according to temperament type. You will find lots of information on the Horse Temperament website, including an online course, help from temperament consultantsbalancing formulas, and books/audios. Then check out the “5 Element Personality” sections of articles on our blog and the Intro to 5 horse types and temperaments on Holistic Horsekeeping.

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