• Yahel Applbaum

Baby Steps

Baby steps

Taking your first step towards a change is never easy, but sometimes it is very much needed.

People always say that you need to step out of your comfort zone in order to achieve great things, I do believe it is true- but at the same time we always need to carry a bit of that comfort with us- because no matter how far you push yourself, doing things that you don't believe in, or feel uncomfortable doing, won't get you anywhere in the long run- you have to be able to stand behind your actions in order to maintain a certain lifestyle or training program.

With all that said, every change feels a little bit (or a lot) awkward, and it is hard to stay motivated for a long time. We all need some help and guidance along the way. Sometimes you will have an idea in your head, or a role model you'd like to follow- but in most cases we all need some fine tuning or a full-on checkup. So, no matter how big or small is that change, make sure it is not too far out of your reach, and keep in mind it is always good to have someone to grab the reins when you are a little tired.

While working horses we go through the same process- we are trying to build a safe comfortable space for the horse while pushing towards achieving our goal- or our client's goal. When working horses, I always try to create a common understanding of 'why'- giving the horse an opportunity to be a part of the process and making my goal the horse's idea- that way the horse is more comfortable with the changes that will come.

When I get a new horse to train I first of all go back to the basic, I treat each and every horse like a clean board- while keeping in mind what the horse has already been taught; after building a relationship from the ground and getting to know the horse, I usually look for the tools that horse has already been taught, and I will offer a reward (rest, pet, loosen reins etc.) for that effort- allowing your horses to show you what they know is an amazing tool to build better communication right from the start- it gives you a window of understanding. Knowing what ques your horse has been taught in the past, and are used to working by is a great way to encouraging learning and not frustration. Notice- it might also expose you to some trigger points.

Using that point of view will be great for already trained horses (even just basic training), but with colts and young horses it might not work as good; In that case we will start fresh, and allow our horse the same learning experience whether or not the horse was trained before.

The learning experience that I'm talking about is based on why, always asking ourselves Why is/ isn't it working? Why is that the goal we had set for ourselves/our horse? And also making sure our horse knows "why"- horses are preserving energy by nature, due to their basic need to run from predators- they will not waste any energy unless they have to.

Many times, I come across students telling me their horse is too lazy, not trained, un-responsive and many more phrases, while that might be true, I find that almost every time- the horse in order was not motivated- didn't understand what was asked of it, and why is that better than grazing in the corner. The solution, for me, is not kicking harder or smacking the horse with a whip to get it going, but explaining why, giving our request a purpose, making it as important for the horse as it is for us.



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