Training Tips to prep for show season by Don Boyd
The Learning Curve by Don Boyd Reiner Consultant
I often heard from inexperienced people watching a reining, how easy it looks. But we, as Reiners understand how false that statement is.
The optical illusion that comes from a high marking reining performance is one of beauty, perfect communication between horse and rider giving an effortless look.
Then, when one watches the training and warmup arenas, often times it has a look of force and punishment, making many, myself included, cringe with distaste!
I , as mentioned in previous articles, I am an over thinker. And as such, I’ve never been able to accept the theory that hurting a horse repeatedly would make them reliable to show. On the other hand, allowing bad or undesirable behavior also does not make a horse reliable.
The fact is, horses, like children, will have many bad moments of attitude.
When I was a child, and I messed up, I knew very well what the consequences would be. There would be a warning of a look or a word. This would be repeated twice more a bit more empathetic!
And, the next time my bottom side would be stinging a little!
Today, when I say that many people cringe and think or say , how awful ! Never hit a child, it encourages violence!
Well, first I’m about as non violent of a person there was, and I have respect for authority. It never made me fear my parents. I always felt their love. And it taught me manners that merely reasoning with me never would have! But I also know that there’s a huge difference between a smack or two on the butt and beating a child.
What lessons can I take from this and use with training?
1. No warning makes discipline unfair
2. No discipline = bad attitude and no respect
3. Too strong discipline creates fear
Years ago I had two co trainers working or me.
One, had incredible feel for a horse but could get a little stuck sometimes because he was a perfectionist.
The other also had great feel, but had big dreams of winning and trophies!
The first, as I traveled to shows, would if anything do less until I returned. And the second, would do things I would never allow when I was home, trying to fix things with domination.
In my frustration, I asked the first, why he thought this was happening when I took such pains to teach the right way.
I’ll never forget his response. He said, the hard discipline is the easy one to see, the subtle one takes thought!
Ever hear the old saying, “ he who has eyes, let him see”?
In conclusion, in your quest to train better, to show better, think about the subtlety of discipline. One of the best forms of discipline we can use on a Reiner is to just stop the horse that’s misbehaving. If We don’t allow a horse to continue movement in bad manner we take away the possibility for the horse to continue misbehaving.
At the same time, stopping is one of the most important of maneuvers and doing it more creates more learning.
Stopping one does not mean forcefully pulling them in the ground. That would be unfair without a warning.It means take the slack out and draw on the reins slowly until they stop ! Then walk a little bit and start again!
Lifting the reins relates to “the look or word” of my parents that I mentioned before.
Drawing the horse to a stop relates to the uncomfortable little sting I got on my back side when I still didn’t listen. Walking a little and starting again relates to my parents saying, I don’t like what you did, it I still love you.
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