Monday, August 4, 2008

Training....whatever works

Sometimes I think, as with anything else "marketable", horse training methods are overused, sometimes abused, and over-rated, by the clinicians who try to teach their secretive methods. In the past, I have been overwhelmed with all the variations.

Sure, pick one and go with it. However, there's always someone else's methods which you think fit your style just a little better. Lately, I've decided, I'm doing what works best for me and my horses. I'm calling it the WW method, for Whatever Works.

I don't have the option of finding a trainer to come train or taking my horses to a trainer (don't have a trailer yet), or attending clinics (we don't get clinics around here). I wouldn't trust the trainers around my area to touch my horses with a ten foot pole. I have not heard one good story about one good trainer within a 50 mile radius. I think in that respect, Southern Ohio is a black hole.

So, as inconsistent as I tend to be, my days of horse training are when I can get it done. We are progressing slowly but we are progressing.

Bo, my 10 yo, was a finished horse when I got him. Major issue is that he is on the bossy side. He will take advanatage of every inch you give him, Hubby has learned this the hard way. But, with Bo, I know all I need to do is ride. That's really all he needs.

Spirit was meant to be my project horse. I bought him when he was 2, lots of ground training from his previous owner, but no ride time or saddling. Now, at 6, we are moving along to the saddling. I see so much improvement since he's been with me. Even last year he wouldn't stand still for the farrier, leaned, hopped around etc. This year, he's standing so Hubby can rasp his hooves in-between farrier visits. Spirit is comfortable with a saddle and the girth being cinched up. I've always cinched up in increments of three, when I first put the saddle on, after a few minutes and then just before I get on. That's always been my method, and it works for me. Maybe more time consuming to some, but like I said, I'm in the WW training method now!

I don't want to use bits. I want to try something else. I'm working with bitless bridles and sidepulls. So far, so good, but haven't gone out on a trail yet. That will surely be the test.

I know, most people who train horses for a living don't have the luxury of time. They have specific amount of work to be done in a specific amount of time for a specific amount of money. But I got to thinking, I'm not a professional trainer. I can work with my guys as I choose and that's a freedom I enjoy. Granted, we're not riding off in the sunset down beautiful Southern Ohio trails at the moment, but I'll get there. I go with the ideaology, 15 minutes of a little something, is better than nothing at all when it comes to working with the horses.

I'll keep reading about methods and discover What Works for me and one day, soon, I will be enjoying the riding life I've always looked forward to, on my own terms.

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