Juliane Dykiel's Horsemanship Blog

Make the Right Thing Easy

By Trainer Colleen Campbell

Colleen Campbell Equine

Colleen with her horse Luke

Probably the best advice I have ever heard, Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard. Bill Durance was a master at his craft because he understood how to make things very simple for the horse. Time and time again I find if you want your horse to do what you want and do it happily make it clear and easy to understand, no matter if they are green, trained or problem horses. A great example of this is trying to get your horse to slow down and relax at whatever gait you are riding. If your horse wants to trot really fast with his head in the air and back hollow, let him, just make him do it in a very small circle. Pretty soon, with patience and consistency, he is going to figure out it is much harder to trot fast in a small circle than trot calmly and slower on a straight line. You have just taught him to trot at the speed you want without pulling on him, getting braced or fighting with him. (Same exercise to slow down the canter) You can even add a verbal que, such as easy, when you start bringing him into a smaller circle so he associates that word with slowing down.

Another great example is a horse that turns to bite you, rather than slap at him, stick your elbow out and let him run into it. He just learned that trying to bite you makes him very uncomfortable.

It is important to remember he is not going to learn these lessons the very first time and maybe not even the third, forth or fifth time (think of him as a three year old child learning a new lesson). If you are consistent he will figure it out and once learned it will stay for life.

The best lessons are ones that the horse thinks he taught himself. By letting him figure out that his way is hard and your way is easy he will happily do what you want. You will be on your way to building a true partnership with your horse. Always remember patience is key.


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