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 using the methods of John Lyons.

By Keith Hosman
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: Horse are programmed by nature to understand that "Whoever causes the other to move is the boss." Here's how to do just that.

Whoever Moves First Loses

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...

 
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