“Oh, how I wish I had a magic wand. Then I could wave it over you and make things all better.” Words from a friend that have lodged themselves into my mind. And while there are some horses I have worked with that I have greatly desired one for, if there was a horse training wand out there, I would not have a job or perhaps I would be in the wand business. Yet, it never ceases to amaze me how often that is exactly what is expected not only of the horse trainer, but also the horse. I have high standards when it comes to horse training and a horse’s obedience. I expect a horse to stay off my feet when leading; to come to me and allow me to halter it without turning away or raising his head; to listen to my reins with no bucking or bolting; to go where I ask without pushing or pulling me around and the list goes on and on.
However, I do not expect these things without putting the horse through a series of lessons to teach the horse what is required of it. Now, depending on the horse’s previous training and his attitude, some horses will take less time and are easier to teach, but it is consistency, repetition, purpose and awareness involved, not wands. Unfortunately, once the horse steps off my ranch its continuing success literally lay directly in the hands of the owner. Sadly for me, I can usually tell that horse’s fate long before I ever set eyes on the horse. On those first conversations with the owner when I learn not only what the horse is and is not doing, I also learn the whys. That conversation will also tell me how long it will take for that horse to return to those behaviors when it returns home.
The conversation will include statements like, “My horse will be easy,” or “This horse will make you look good.” These owners are bringing the horse to me because they “just don’t have the time.” They think after I put some training into the horse that they will now suddenly have the time they did not have before and that my training stick with no further work or learning on the owners part. It’s not Pixie Dust that made the horse good. Yes, a horse can have a good mind and be a quick and easy learner, but the smart horses will replace all I do with what the owner does faster too. Here’s your wand.
One of my favorite statements, “He will only need 30 days as he has no issues.” Really? Why is he here than? This horse may have had some professional training 10 years ago and the owner knows the horse remembers it and just needs a “tune-up.” I would like to sit the owner down and give them a high school entrance exam and see what they remember. These horses are the ones that have spent the last 10 years rewriting the book, “How To Train Your Owner In Six Easy Kicks.” Now I get to deal with these little issues that become huge problems when the horse starts to understand that I will not tolerate them. Plus, I get to hear the owner insists, “He’s never done that before.” Here’s your wand.
What really takes all possibilities of success from a horse is the disheartening statements that point to the owners attitude of “I am not changing the way I ride/handle the horse, just fix the issue.” The horse and I are destined for failure before we even start. It will not matter how much time, blood, sweat, and many times tears I put into a horse that has an owner with that attitude. They fail to understand that they will undo everything I have done in a matter of a week or less. As soon as they look at the horse they are training it and they refuse to accept that responsibility. Horses mirror the owners. Why? Every horse owner is a teacher. Every horse is a student. If you don’t like an aspect of your horse, it is you that needs fixing more than the horse. Like it or not as easily as I can “fix” a horse, the owner can “unfix” it even faster. Here’s your wand.
This is why I am so refreshed when a horse owner owns up to their responsibilities on those first calls. Admitting they need to learn a new way of handling their horse and to learn how to maintain their horse’s training. They show commitment not only to their horse, but to themselves as well. What’s more, they know that learning never ceases for them and their horses so they want to be sure they are always teaching the right lessons. These are the people who call me throughout the years with such joy in the improvements of their horses, themselves, and the relationship between them. They were able to continue growing as a team because the owner did not expect magic, they accepted the responsibility and challenge of changing themselves. Not once did they ask for a wand nor expect magic to cure their problems.
Jodi Wilson is a recognized authority on the subject of horse training and has spent almost 30 years developing training techniques and solutions for horse owners no matter the discipline or breed.
Jodi is an Accredited Josh Lyons trainer, and is Certified in John Lyons training techniques. Her website, http://Jodi-Wilson.com, provides a wealth of information to improve the relationship between horse and rider. Jodi is also available for clinics and demonstrations as well as lessons, apprenticeships, and horse training.
Jodi has trained and competed in Reining, Sorting, Jumping, Dressage, English and Western Pleasure, Trail and Problem Solving.
Originally posted 2012-11-20 05:49:17.