I believe true softness is a frame of mind that comes from leadership. Leadership starts with respect from me being able to move my horse away from me as it does in the herd environment. In other words, ‘the pecking order.’ The more specific I get with the control in that direction, with a slow build of pressure with a timed release, the stronger the leadership becomes.
I’ve been learning to communicate with horses as long as I can remember. And in the last 20 years, I have developed a simplified step-by-step program that I can teach others.
Two major cornerstones of my program are horses and people. People have taught me as much as the horses. Understanding your personality type plays a big role in your ability to train a horse.
There are generally four personality types; however, I will focus on the two opposite extremes — aggressive and passive.
1. If you are an...
When we are starting colts, we are always looking for that safe and effective way to gain control of our horses from the ground. My goal is to have enough control before I mount so, if they spook or buck, we can shut them down and talk them through it.
Ground driving has been around for years and for good reason. I myself have always had trouble creating a soft face while ground driving.
The Training Thru Trust program designed by my dad Doug Mills has proved to be not only helpful to me but easy to follow and teach. With it I have been able to help students from the apprentice trainers to the first time horse owner.
The halter work program has the same goals as the ground driving. The goal is to prepare our horse for riding to ensure our safety and give our...
It doesn’t matter what discipline you are in, your horse will have obstacles to face... even if it’s the trailer ride to get there.
Obstacles are a good way to establish leadership, build confidence, and teach your horse to read patterns. I like to use a variety of obstacles but as I approach each obstacle, I only have one goal in mind — reward the try.
By consistently rewarding the try and not pushing them over each obstacle on the first approach, you will build confidence in your horse. He will gain confidence in me knowing that I won’t put him into a situation that will harm him, and confidence in himself by conquering scary things.
1. In the first scenario, Jill camps out at one obstacle with the attitude that her and her horse are going to go over it, even if it takes all day. The positives of this approach is it will show her...
There are three different ways to stop your horse. We can stop from the reins, from the word “whoa,” and lastly from our seat and pushing in our stirrups.
Teaching our horse all three ways will ensure a great stop. I have always been taught the key to teaching a horse to stop is a soft and smooth back up.
First I teach him to give his face and give me a few steps back then I will start to engage his body using my legs. It takes time to teach our horses to add speed in the back up but is a great tool to keep them soft.
I always use the order face, body, then speed. They must yield all three to have a complete back up and stop. Once they understand the timed release, we can teach each one individually.If we first start with the face, it allows us to pull on them to engage the body and move their feet. If they are...