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From John Lyons Trainer Keith Hosman


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A sample from Day 5:

Any time we add speed, we up the horse's emotion level, right? We'll use that to our advantage here to create a situation that mimics the anxiety the horse feels in the show arena or when separated from his buddies on the trail. It's not comfortable for the horse to spend his time being scared any more than it is for you to feel the same way, perhaps more so, him being a prey animal and all. Get him agitated and there's nothing he'd love more than to not be. Believe it or not, he doesn't want to stay excited - he wants to munch grass and snooze. It's just that some horses have learned that acting like a jerk scares you off - and that's the quickest way he's found back to the barn.

When we continually raise his emotions - just barely so that we retain control - by asking for increased speed, then shut him down again (slow down to walk, pet, relax) it won't take him long to figure out that simply staying calm is a whole lot easier. The trick is to do each increase in small increments. Recall the "move the green chair one inch at a time" analogy from Day Three.

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An Exercise For When You Can't Ride: Teach Yourself What A Give Really Feels Like

By Keith Hosman and by Josh Lyons

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An Exercise For When You Can't Ride: Teach Yourself What A Give Really Feels Like

To train your horse correctly you first need to know what a "give" feels like. To do this you have to raise your expectations. A horse can only ever be as good as we expect it to be.

Take your halter attached to your lead rope and throw the halter portion away from you onto the ground. Throughout this exercise imagine yourself on your horse's back: You're going to pretend like you are riding.

Take your left hand and hold the lead rope as if it's the left rein. Pull the halter slowly toward yourself.

Concentrate. Remember, pretend you're actually training your horse. Feel in your hand how much pressure it takes to bring that rope toward you. You should feel in your pinky how many ounces it takes. Throw it back out and do it again. This time close your eyes and really concentrate. If you get this lesson, horse training gets a whole lot easier. Really focus on what it feels like. How many ounces is it taking to bring that halter back to you? Think of a specific number now - and then later when you're training that horse. How many pounds? How many ounces? One or two? 5 pounds or 5 ounces?

How would you like your horse to be that soft? A pound or two from your horse doesn't seem so bad, does it? Actually, if you're training a horse, it's terrible. Having to put a pound or two of pressure on the rein to get the horse to "come back to you" is just terrible. Take the halter off the lead rope now and throw the rope back out, snap end first.

Do the same thing, drag the snap back to you. How does that feel? It feels pretty light, right? You feel a big difference. But that's still terrible. Now take the lead rope back in hand and throw the opposite end out, the end without the snap. That feels really light. It feels like nothing. It's still terrible.

The reason it's terrible is because when the horse really gives to you, there is no pull, zero. And it's not just neutral that you feel, but energy and movement coming back to you.

Now take the snap end of the lead rope in your hand and throw it back out. When it hits the ground, add as much pressure as you can to the rope - without moving the snap. Now a "give" is when you feel energy come up that rope. You don't pull back, you wait until energy comes up that rope. You feel energy come up that rope, and you let go. That's what you're waiting to feel when you're riding or training a horse. You'll put pressure on your horse and when you feel energy come back to you, when you see a loop in that rein, that's when your horse is really giving - and your training is really working - and you let go.

To make my point, think of it this way: When you reach to shake somebody's hand, what's the first thing the other person does after you put your hand out? They put their hand out. What if you asked somebody to raise your arm, to raise it up and down, away from your side - but you resisted? Is the exercise tough? The exercise itself isn't tough. The "toughness" is caused by the resistance. The exercise and the training is easy. Keep that in mind when you begin an exercise - or your training - your horse is going to be stiff.


Read previous article: How To Get Your Horse's Attention

Read next article: Featured Exercise: Steer the Tail

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   Meet the author:  

Keith Hosman
John & Josh Lyons Certified
Clinician and Trainer

Utopia, TX (Hill Country of San Antonio)

Keith Hosman is based in San Antonio, TX and is available for clinics, lessons and training. He frequently travels to Los Angeles, CA and Kansas City, MO where he partners with fellow clinician Patrick Benson for clinics and demonstrations. You can find him on Google+ and Reddit



   Meet the author:  

Josh Lyons
Clinician and Trainer

Cross Plains, TN

Josh Lyons inherited his father's stamina, patience, and talent for getting positive results from both horses and people. As Josh says, "Knowledge and patience are the only tools that you need to bring with you into your barn."�Josh currently trains out of his ranch in Cross Plains, TN.


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Lyons Training 101: Issue One, Part 3
"Horse Ground Training: An Exercise For When You Can't Ride"
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