Horsemanship guiding principles
Some of the guiding principles and knowledge of Holistic Equitation’s Trainers
What is Ascending Pressure?
Ascending means to increase or build up. We apply ascending pressure (whether it’s physical and or non physical) to horses by starting with the most understanding deal possible and increasing the intensity based on the response the horse is displaying.
What is a Timed Release?
We then take the pressure away as soon as you recognize the horse making the slightest try (1% improvement) to understand what we are trying to communicate to them.
3 Rules – there are no rules – but…
1. Don’t Nag your Nag
2. Always stay safe
3. You and your horse must be calmer at the end of the day than at the start
The SERVING Principle
Leadership is the corner stone of managing people and horses. Are you a self-serving leader or a serving leader?
S – Symmetry (mirroring physically, mentally, emotionally)
E – Evolution (prey/predator)
R – Reverse psychology and assumptions
V – Vision
I – Tough Love (1% try, comfort/discomfort, advance & retreat)
N – No rules only guiding principles
G – Grace & Humility
Symmetry – Mirroring effect
External and internal energy shown through our body language
Reverse Psychology – Never teach assumptions
Begin with the end in mind – Don’t Assume anything when it comes to horses
Clarity of Vision – Begin your journey with a polished performance in mind. Slowly create an uncomfortable environment with ascending pressure, and then allow the horse to find the comfort with a timed release.
Evolution – Don’t behave like a predator so the horse has no choice to act like a prey animal
Always approach an educational situation by showing the horse an object or situation in the least predatory way first. Then assess the reply from the horse and only proceed to a scarier object or situation if the horse has accepted the prior experience. This principle is as much for the horse as it is for the human. Horses have survived for millions of years because of their ability to change and adapt to their environment. Flight from fear is the only way the horse knows how to not become lunch for a bunch of loins. Stand and fight is the first response to the human when backed into a corner. When you think about it, horses and humans are at extremes when it comes to natural instincts. The challenge with developing a level of communication between the horse and human is for the horse to NOT act like a PREY animal, and the human to not act like a PREDATOR. Becoming more mentally, physically & emotionally fit is BOTH our responsibly.
When we take over the horse’s responsibility instead of teaching him to uphold them, and when you don’t take care of your own, the learning environment becomes more about a dictatorship rather than follower ship. I like to think about it like Gundy and Napoleon. Ultimately the human becomes more domineering and less effective, and the horse becomes mindless. The 80/20 Principle is about spending 80% of your time doing the things that your horse knows how to do, & 20% of your time teaching them something new. This is the foundation to the way I go about my training. I focus on spending 80% of my time in the Warm up and Respect phase and the Warm Down part of the session. The other 20% of the time is spent on the education phase of the session.
E.g. let’s say we work on 60mins as the time allocated to work a horse.
80% of 60mins is 48mins – this becomes the Warm up and Respect phase and the Warm Down phase and 12mins for actual education time for something new. You can break that 48mins into 80% of that is 38mins of warm up and respect and 10min of warm down.
“If you don’t own the horse’s hind quarters, you don’t own the horse.”
Tough Love – Be quick to offer the 1% improvement your horse is offering you. The horse only learns the moment you take the pressure away.
Horses naturally apply this principle to other horses every day. We too can use this to aid us in educating our horses and to gain control over destructive emotions such as fear, frustration and anger. Horses respond to positive and negative reinforcement, but they don’t understand punishment. Having small consequences for small mistakes and big consequences for big mistakes is the key to gaining respect and establishing leadership with your horse. Always look for the horse to lick and chew, it means he’s thinking.
“Unwanted horse behaviors are a lack of human communication.”
Always offer the desire result first to your horse, so the horse searches for the release and comfort.
What is Ascending Pressure?
Ascending means to increase or build up. We apply ascending pressure (whether it’s physical and or non physical) to horses by starting with gentle pressure and increasing the intensity based on the response the horse is displaying. We then take the pressure away as soon as you recognize the horse making the slightest try to understand what we are trying to communicate to them.
Advance and Retreat
No rules when educating horses, only guiding principles
There are no rules when educating horses because they are man made, only being guided by Principles can you develop a natural relationship of trust, understanding and love.
Rules are basically a non flexible approach to something, which in the horse’s eye is punishment, and punishment doesn’t work with horses. On the other hand a principle means: a primary source; a fundamental truth as basis of reasoning; a law of cause and effect; a moral rule by which conduct maybe guided.
Grace & Humility
Horsemanship is about Grace & Humility – All of us are trainers of horses whether you think so or not, the only difference is I get paid for it as my primary income. The thing about training horses is that you must keep it FUN so the learning atmosphere doesn’t become mechanical. Time and Knowledge is the greatest gift you can give to a horse, because generally when you run out of Time and Knowledge the situation quickly runs into Frustration. We have all felt Frustration when it comes to working with a horse because to the horse it’s just a game. If we get frustrated the horse the horse wins the game. Where dose Frustration lead us to? Force, Fear, Intimidation and Mechanical horsemanship designed to physically over power horses.
Where is the Humility in that?
“No matter what the horse has done or not done, they are worthy of love, empathy and respect”
~ Jo Sheval
Don’t Nag your Nag
- Have the end goal in mind
- Start with the most understanding deal possible and then apply ascending pressure
- Wait for the reply and then direct the movement
What if nothing happens?
- Check your position
- Look at your body language
- Start from the start again
How to develop Persistence
There are four simple steps which lead to the habit of persistence.
- A definite purpose backed by burning desire for its fulfillment.
- A definite plan, expressed in continuous action.
- A mind closed tightly against all negative and discouraging influences, including negative suggestions of relatives, friends and acquaintances.
- A friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage one to follow through with both plan and purpose (hang out with like minded people)
SYMPTOMS OF LACK OF PERSISTENCE
- Failure to recognize and to clearly define exactly what one wants