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Five Qualities Every Trainer Should Have…

Patience, Consistency, Feel, Timing and Dedication. People hear me say this constantly, but do you really understand what these words mean as it relates to your horse? To be an effective trainer you need these attributes.

Patience…. Usually this is part of a person(s) character, you either have it or you don’t. Consistency… Consistency is a matter of disciplining your mind, think before you ask your horse for something. If you’re confused, your horse surely will be! Timing and Feel are usually developed with experience. As with anything, the more you practice, the better you’ll get. Dedication is self-discipline.If you don’t have the time to spend with the animal of which you are responsible, changes might be in order.

Let’s try to put these in a different perspective…

Patience… Are you able to sit in a traffic jam without losing your composure? Can you wait in a slow-moving line at the supermarket without getting angry? In the world of animal training, patience is a mandatory! If you’re someone who does not have a reasonable amount of patience, you probably need to find yourself a different activity.

Consistency… Let’s say you wanted to learn a new language. If the first day I taught you Spanish, then he next day I started teaching you Mandarin, then the next day French, how long before you decided to say (in English!), “This is crazy, I’m outa here!” and go look for the nearest pub! If you want to effectively communicate with your horse, be consistent!

Feel… While feel can be tactile, i.e. how hard is the horse pulling on my reins, feel is also being able to “sense” how your horse is responding. When your spouse is smiling but you know they are really upset, this also… is feel. Just as with your spouse, this type of feel comes with understanding and recognizing changes of expression in your horse and responding appropriately.

Timing... Corrections, applying pressure, releasing pressure etc., typically must be made within 3 to 5 seconds following the need. For example, corrections must be made immediately (within 3-5 seconds). Any longer than this, the horse will not understand why you are correcting them. When you were a kid, when you first touched a hot object, the immediate pain helped you understand the situation. If the pain didn’t arrive until later and you wonder, “why is my hand burning?”, you would never associate the pain with the hot object and therefor nothing would be learned.

Dedication… No matter what you do in life, if are not willing to put forth the time and effort, then don’t expect much success. As horse owners, dedication is a requirement! Just like children, the more quality time that you spend with your horse the better both lives will be!

Remember, anyone who handles a horse is training that horse. There is no neutral. The horse is always leaning from you either in a positive way or a negative way. An excellent way to improve your training skills is to have an experienced trainer watch you. An outside observer can see things you cannot.

Never be afraid or embarrassed to seek out assistance from someone more knowledgeable. I do!