Areas of Control
Needed for a Safe Horse

Physical

Physical control of the horse means go where I want him to go, how fast, how long and do the last thing I asked until I ask for something different. There are in essensce, only two cues (stop and go). Everything else is an aide (your feet, hands, stirrups, spurs, reins, weight, etc) which guide the horse once it is in motion.

I have witnessed a lot of trainers start at the back of the horse, yeilding his hindquarters. While this needs to be taught and you may be sucessful with domestic horse, it will get you hurt with a mustang this early in training. I begin in the front where the brain is located and fear orginates, by yeilding the forequarters. The first steps are to the side and away - not back and certainly not on top of me when we begin to lunge.

So we start from the front and move our way to the back and teach the go forward cue and then yeild the hindquarters. Everything initially taught on the ground with clear instructions.

Emotional

Every horse has a threshold, whether it is distance or volume. Cross that threshold without sufficient desensitization, and you will trigger the hores's fight/flight mechanism. This takes time, but is crutial for building trust.

This is most evident in mustangs or older horses that haven't been handled. Once the distance or volume has been established, you have your starting point. Decide on your approach and do not exceed what the horse can handle or risk loosing any trust you have established.

Mental

Mental refers to the horse's mind and ability to focus on you, the trainer, handler or rider. You must be the center of that horse's world. And you have your job cut out for you as horese can see two objects at one time and hear two different directions at the same time. A classical example of focus is the next time you lunge your horse, watch his ear. The nearest ear should be facing you. Where the ear is focused, so is the eye. If the ear wanders, add a kiss (pressure) and it will return (as will the horse's focus) to you.

 


Focus is the key to control. To gain the focus of the horse without pain, requires a clean understanding of how the horse thinks, moves and commiunicates.

Jonathan Deeley