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Confusing terms people use around horses.

25/04/15

Are there terms that horse people use that confuse you?During a lesson the other day I said, “soften up” to the rider as she rounded the turn…and she immediately picked up on the reins to ‘soften’ her horse.

Houston, we have a problem.

I had intended for the rider to ‘soften’ her hands, to offer the horse a reward but my terminology wasn’t  clearly defined. The rider heard the word ‘soften’ and immediately associated the word with asking the horse to demonstrate softness and a willingness, to ask the horse to remove rigidity from its body.

This is one of the reasons why I encourage people to learn through two methods 1) follow one person’s program all the way through 2) study other peoples methods and figure out how they fit in with your understanding. Above all don’t punish your horse if you get confused. Also don’t punish your horse even if an instructor starts yelling at you in frustration.

Are there terms that you have heard that have confused you? Are there terms you have used that have confused others?


Old habits vs new habits: in horses and in people

23/04/15

Most of us are at least somewhat aware of our own habits. You probably recognize that you have a routine when getting ready for bed each night or the way you fold your cloths. We become especially aware of those habits if someone interrupts or changes them. Where did you learn that habit? How strong is the habit? What would it take to change it?

Successful peopleIn the last six months I have done more trail riding than I did in the last ten years. It was an interesting revelation in my old habits vs my new ones. I would have guessed that the rider I have become in the last 25 years would be the rider that hit the trail…but no. The rider I was as a teen when I logged most of my trail riding hours quickly showed up. Habits that had been lying dormant for many years quickly surfaced. My knees hurt after only an hour or so in the saddle. How could this be? I regularly ride for many hours a day in an arena. Same horse. Same saddle.

Different rider.

The rider I was years ago was more of a passenger on trail rides, not an active rider. As soon as I was aware that my old habit had shown up I was able to switch and become a more active rider again but the point remains; unless changed in those setting the old habits are still there.

It was a fun adventure every time I went out on a trail. The old habits meeting the new habits in my body while my mind observed it all.

I was recently working a horse that I believe already has some ‘habits’ that she has learned. Early on in her training she was allowed to be excitable, fresh and emotional during the first part of each work session. She would eventually come around but I now suspect that this has become a habit with her. The biggest clue is that the first ten minutes of a workout she is ready to come unglued. Almost anything can set her off; a bag, a pole, or simply lunging. She expects to be crazy. Day after day as I work her I see a horse that really isn’t scared of the bag or the pole…but expects to be emotionally out of control for the first 10 minutes.

I didn’t start her but if I could go back I would have changed the pattern early on. This horse is carrying on the ‘pattern’ even though she isn’t really excited. Interesting food for thought.

Can you think of an area where you have habits that you do, only because you learned them early on…even though they don’t benefit you now?


Free Download: Stacy Westfall and Barbra Schulte discuss Overcoming Fear

22/04/15

Ask yourself-What do you have control of-What do I love-Barbra SchulteFear is an emotion. We imagine harm in the future. That thought triggers physical changes: fast heartbeat, headache, irritability, rapid breathing, sweating, trembling, muscle tension and more. Most of us know these symptoms from personal experience…but did you know that you can train your emotions?

Last night Barbra and I spent almost two hours discussing the topic of fear. We opened with each of us telling a story about how fear had negatively affected our lives. The greatest part of sharing the story isn’t the negative side of what happened but the reality that a gold nugget of learning was hidden inside these tough times. I learned how to ‘release the outcome.’

Barbra shared how her experience helped her to find her own inner compass and ask 1) What do I have control of? and 2) What do I love?

Much of Barbra’s teaching is on training human emotion and I know from personal experience that one tip can make a huge difference.

Do you deal with fear? Did you miss the live seminar last night? Great news! You can listen to the whole thing right now at the click of a button. You might want to go ahead and download it…we talked and then answered questions for almost two hours!

Click here for a link to listen right now or download for later.

Be sure that you check out the free download in the top left corner called the “Relationship Roadmap” and if you liked what you heard and want to learn more about “Letting Go of What Other People Think” consider taking a look at Barbra’s Workshop designed to gently walk you through subtle shifts in how you think about yourself and your relationships.


How much is one good tip worth? Why was Stacy running her fingers through Roxy’s mane?

21/04/15

can you train your emotions?Can you make yourself cry right now?

Cry.

Right now.

OK, now wipe your eyes and keep reading. What? You didn’t really cry? Why not?

What if I told you that if you turned your camera on right now and cried you would instantly win $1,000,000.00? Would you be able to cry for that?

The above conversation is one of two things that I remember the most from my first interaction with Barbra Schulte. She was a guest speaker at the University of Findlay when I was a student and she was teaching us about our emotions. Her point when she asked us about crying was to get us thinking about what it would take to call up an emotion. You have probably already figured out that if you wanted to cry you would first remember something that made you cry in the past. Then you could choose to harness that emotion. Could you do that with other emotions?

I said there were two things I remembered about Barbra’s talk. One was the example of ‘can you cry’ and the other was a tip she gave: train your body to respond in a certain way. The example she gave was that people often get nervous when they head into the show pen. What if you could touch your thumb and your middle finger together and feel relaxed? She suggested teaching our bodies during times of no stress (when you’re going to sleep, etc) that touching the fingers together was associated with relaxation, deep breathing, and clear thoughts.

I used that tip for many years when I was showing…and I still use it at times today. In reality I use versions of the tip every single time I show. Do you remember watching the ‘Live Like You Were Dyin’ video? Remember how I was running my fingers through Roxy’s mane? Yep, I was using that tip even then.

If you are interested in learning more about this way of thinking, join me tonight on the web where I will be interviewing Barbra on the topic of Overcoming Fear. It is a live event where you can type in questions in real time for us to answer. Here is the link to the event landing page: http://InstantTeleseminar.com/?eventid=68616228 Feel free to click on it now to get comfortable with how easy it is to join in. Who knows…maybe you will get one tip that will make a huge difference for you.

Tonight. 9:00 PM Eastern time, 8:00 PM Central, 7:00 PM Mountain, 6:00 PM Pacific


The Back Up: Giving a horse the idea is like planting a seed.

20/04/15

The ideal back upWhen I am introducing a new idea to a horse it is usually done in a very subtle way. I ask for a tiny amount of response and immediately release. Even though the horse may not get the response completely correct, I reward for movement in the correct direction. Lets look at an example.

If I am teaching a horse to back up there are many things I am looking for. Some of these include:

  1. move feet backward
  2. soft relaxed neck
  3. break at the poll
  4. rhythm in the steps

While I might have all of these goals in mind I will begin by planting a seed. This could be on the ground, during ground driving, or it could be while mounted. Either way my main focus when beginning is to get the feet to move backward…even just a little bit. Ideally the horse will not only take a step but will also remain soft and quiet…but that doesn’t always happen. It is more likely that the horse will try something that has worked before in the past. That could be turning to the left or right or even walking forward. It is always interesting to see how many ideas the horse could have depending on their past history.

My job is to apply only enough pressure to motivate the horse to try something…and then reward any movement in this direction. When someone is planting a seed in a spring garden they treat it gently and try to give it the best chance. They prepare the soil, they monitor the water, they don’t walk on the new seeds.

That first step backward may not have all of the idea characteristics but if you are gentle and quick to reward it is amazing how quickly the horse will grow that idea. Their neck may not be perfectly soft, they may not break at the pole and they will rarely have good rhythm…but those will come. Unless the horse shows a dramatic amount of resistance in their neck and poll my main focus will be moving their feet. Later as that seed grows stronger I will begin to focus on planting the second seed of more softness to grow along side the original seed.

Fostering a new thought or a new idea in a horses mind is very similar to planting a seed.