Whoever Moves First Loses
By Keith Hosman, John Lyons Certified Trainer
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Whoever Moves First Loses
Discipline problems vanish when your horse sees you as boss; here's training for a rainy day that puts you back in charge.
Does your horse bang impatiently on the stall at feeding time? Or lead poorly or bite or buck or kick out during a speed transition or drop his head to eat grass or forget you exist when whinnying to his buddies or "get cinchy" or act the fool for the farrier...? Does your horse see you more as servant than lord of the manor?
Or maybe you're looking for some effective training to do on a rainy day? Maybe something you can teach in a barn aisle when somebody else is using the arena?
For those of you who answered "aye," I'm going to describe a test and then a fix. Some of you will test your horses, they'll pass and you can move on to something else. I hazard to guess, however, that the vast majority of you will find that a little tune up is necessary. The purpose of today's work is to diagnose just how much control we have versus what we think we have; to wrest back control we might have unconsciously ceded, to improve "manners," and to boost our training in general.
If your horse does something (to you) that he'd never do to his mother, you've got a respect issue. Each of the problems listed above comes from a horse that doesn't see you as boss. More importantly, these horses are owned by folks (that'd be you) who either don't realize they're being chumped or know they're being played and don't know what to do about it. Simply put, ya gotta reset that relationship; ya get back to being the boss.
In the round pen, we gain respect by controlling the horse's direction, by not allowing him to stop moving, through speed control, etcetera. At feeding time we enforce respect by not allowing him to crowd us. When leading we keep our positioning by demanding he be polite. We accept no slips, we maintain a zero tolerance policy and we do so because we know that it's the little things that add up to the total package. (Right?)
As common sensical as this sounds, you'd be amazed how often somebody will ask (at a clinic) how to fix a behavioral issue - and swear they've been strict with their horses - and yet I can see several screaming signals from the horse that he's spoiled, spoiled, spoiled. The owner, no disrespect if I'm describing uh, you, is wholly oblivious.
There's a little something we can do to take back (sustain, or solidify) our rightful spot as leader and it comes down to this...
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| Meet the author:
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.
To see articles and training products related to the article you just read, see the following topics:
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Trust - see Respect and Trust
WESN Lesson - also see Directional Control
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Lyons Training 101: Issue Thirty-three, Part 1
"Horse Body Language: Whoever Moves First Loses"
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