Monday, December 27, 2010

Soul of a Horse

A few weeks ago, I read Joe Camp's book "The Soul of a Horse." Its a well written and interesting book about newcomeers to the horse world (Joe and his wife Kathleen) and their introduction to the world of natural horsemanship through Monty Roberts.

I really enjoyed the book overall, but there were some other take home messages as well.

I've struggled with John on trail rides in the past. His favorite thing to do in an "unsure" situation is to sit, spin and run the other way. This really bothers me.

Secret loves to challenge authority. She really believes that she should be in charge.

Remi is young and impressionable and sometimes impatient. I really want to train her well and not repeat mistakes I have made with the other two.

I have been using some of the principles of natural horsemanship that Joe Camp's book reminded me of to work with all three on ground work. Clinton Anderson says that if you are having trouble under saddle, go back to ground work.

I started with my main problem area on the ground - turn out and turn in time. All three are pushy to go out in the morning and pushy to come back in at night (if I followed all of Joe Camp's advice they would be living outside 24/7).

Instead of just getting them all out and back in as fast as possible, I take a few minutes with all of them. We halt, back up and relax. Put your head down. Pay attention to me. And then we proceed to the pasture or the barn. The first few days were challenging, they just wanted to rush out or in like we always do. But we're really getting there and making improvements.

Remi got it quickest. After one day, she got it. Puts her head down and walks quietly out and in. Secret got it next, she still tenses up sometimes but is quick to relax again. John sometimes gets it. He loves to tense up and a lot of the times I feel like he is only relaxing and standing quietly to appease me (so that I will let him go do what he wants). I'm going to keep working at it, with all of them, and hopefully John will truly relax soon.

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