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How do you change someone's training paradigm

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  • #41
    It's like the old joke about how many shrinks does it take to change a lightbulb and the answer being only one, but the lightbulb has to want to change. I think people become open to advice if they're having trouble with a horse and recognising that the trouble is really with how they're communicating with it. If their response to a difficult horse is instead: "Well, he/she is just like that and the issue isn't my method," then they're not going to be open to outside input.

    There's a youngster at my yard, a lovely four-year old, who's very sharp and sensitive and she's always ridden on a tight, heavy rein, always hollow, always swishing her tail madly. They're trying to pull her into an outline. I know I should keep my mouth shut and just avert my eyes, I know, but sometimes, I see the look of anxiety in the horse's eyes and my tongue gets the best of me. It is a very kind horse, in that it hasn't developed any nasty habits, yet, like rearing or kicking, and many would if ridden without a release like that. The owners are very nice, loving horsepeople and they've had the horse from a yearling and have an older horse who they've owned for many years. Not novices. Anyway, in a moment of failing to keep my mouth shut, I said, "Was [horse] a bit worried today? [daughter, who was riding, had already said to me that the horse was tense and spooky, which was obvious to me, sharing the ring with them and steering clear in case the horse spooked into my horse]. You know, I was watching a great Carl Hester video on YouTube this morning where he was riding a Spanish horse, who was really tense and anxious, and it was just fantastic, seeing him talk about how he works with a horse like that. I could send you the video if you fancied."

    Mum answered, "No, she's not tense. She's just excited. Your methods are different than ours. They're American. British ways of training are different. Not better, but just different, and we are happy doing it our way."

    I just nodded and smiled, "Oh, all right," as there did not seem to be any point in continuing the conversation further, or indeed, in saying what I really thought, which was that their horse never looks happy and er, while I might not be British, Carl Hester is!
    Help me keep my horse in peppermints and enjoy a great read! My New York City crime novel, available on Amazon.

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    • #42
      Originally posted by Caol Ila View Post
      It's like the old joke about how many shrinks does it take to change a lightbulb and the answer being only one, but the lightbulb has to want to change. I think people become open to advice if they're having trouble with a horse and recognising that the trouble is really with how they're communicating with it. If their response to a difficult horse is instead: "Well, he/she is just like that and the issue isn't my method," then they're not going to be open to outside input.

      There's a youngster at my yard, a lovely four-year old, who's very sharp and sensitive and she's always ridden on a tight, heavy rein, always hollow, always swishing her tail madly. They're trying to pull her into an outline. I know I should keep my mouth shut and just avert my eyes, I know, but sometimes, I see the look of anxiety in the horse's eyes and my tongue gets the best of me. It is a very kind horse, in that it hasn't developed any nasty habits, yet, like rearing or kicking, and many would if ridden without a release like that. The owners are very nice, loving horsepeople and they've had the horse from a yearling and have an older horse who they've owned for many years. Not novices. Anyway, in a moment of failing to keep my mouth shut, I said, "Was [horse] a bit worried today? [daughter, who was riding, had already said to me that the horse was tense and spooky, which was obvious to me, sharing the ring with them and steering clear in case the horse spooked into my horse]. You know, I was watching a great Carl Hester video on YouTube this morning where he was riding a Spanish horse, who was really tense and anxious, and it was just fantastic, seeing him talk about how he works with a horse like that. I could send you the video if you fancied."

      Mum answered, "No, she's not tense. She's just excited. Your methods are different than ours. They're American. British ways of training are different. Not better, but just different, and we are happy doing it our way."

      I just nodded and smiled, "Oh, all right," as there did not seem to be any point in continuing the conversation further, or indeed, in saying what I really thought, which was that their horse never looks happy and er, while I might not be British, Carl Hester is!
      I just came to the SW and am riding colts with my English saddle.
      We are moving pairs to summer pasture and the neighbors come to help.
      There is this cowboy and his 10/12 year old boy and the boy is trying to get his horse to turn by pulling on it's head and moving his hand to the side, the horse with his head crooked and getting his legs tangled trying to turn.

      I have spent the past 10 years in riding centers, teaching others to ride and train and also being taught myself, is the way we learned in those days.
      So, I tell the kid to take a rein in each hand and show him how to get the horse moving forward, then wait for the horse's hind legs to be right and help it to turn correctly in a larger circle and then making the circle smaller until the horse is turning on it's hind end.
      Do that a few times and when the horse understand, being much easier for the horse to move like that, a mere hint with the reins in one hand and supporting legs will get the horse turning on a loose rein.

      Ok, later I am told by my boss that you don't tell others what they need to do with their horses, how to ride, much less someone else's kid.

      Fast forward 15 years and feedlots are running safety programs, that include how to handle horses.
      They ask me to come give some seminars to their feedlot cowboys.
      Guess who is working as a pen rider in this one feedlot, but that boy, now grown.
      Guess what, he is still pulling a horse around with tight reins, the horse's head in his lap, turning, discombobulated and he is grinning and oh so proud of his horse.

      I had by then learned that, in this culture, you can only do what you can do, then just keep on trying, but it will take decades to change and some people just will never get it in a lifetime.
      Good that most horses are so forgiving.

      I have to say that today cowboys are improving and the younger ones, most of them, are competing and getting out enough to see much better, more refined horsemanship.
      The ones that get it and there are more and more of them are much better today than those of old, that rode by the seat of their pants, without any technical expertise at all and those that were a good hand with a horse used to really stand out.

      There are in all we do some that "don't get it" and we can't do much for those.
      Just hope WE are not some of those at times.

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      • #43
        I don't think I could dance around it anymore. I would probably "grandfather" her for another two months. Just because she joined when being in your program wasn't the norm, doesn't mean she gets to stay in her own personal limbo forever. Things evolve.

        I'd sit down with her over a beverage or lunch and share with her that since she came here things have changed. She now has a choice of joining the barn training and lesson program by x deadline (2 months from now) or that you'll be sorry to see her go, but she will have to find another barn that suits her needs. Just matter of fact. This is not confrontation, this is presenting a choice to her and then it is entirely up to her.

        I'd not be surprised if she got defensive and maybe even offensive. I'd just let it go by and then repeat the gist of above paragraph.

        I really think that tack is a win win for you. If she stays and gets in your program, you will likely see happier horses. If she goes, somebody great will come in and take her place. It happens all the time.
        http://www.camstock.net/

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        • #44
          I have the benefit of knowing the parties involved, but also enough "distance" over the years that I feel like I can offer a bit of outside-looking-in perspective.

          This person is smart, open-minded and cares about her horse...but she is also extremely competitive, driven and determined. People like that (not like me at all...) sometimes need to be JARRED out of their paradigms, not so much just shifted. The other thing is that this person does a lot of things really, really well...it's not like she needs a horsemanship makeover...just needs to add a few tools if she wants a more pleasant horse and less drama in the arena. Complete the picture. The book "The All-Around Horse and Rider" was really interesting to me. Helped me to frame reasonable expectations for my horse, and the context of the book showed that you can have the nice, versatile horse at any level, that a high performer doesn't have to be a fire-breathing dragon.

          Two points I've noticed.

          1. Horse and rider both participated in, enjoyed, and benefitted from recent Centered Riding clinic. Returning to the successes experienced there, and framing any advice around that root could help point a mirror on the less-desireable behaviors. Rider was very in-tune during that clinic to mental overload in the horse and need for rest. It seems like her routine/habit with training rides is overriding the active thought process that the clinic started...ie: rider doesn't realize how far her routine strays from the good clinic results.

          2. Rider is getting disappointed in competition results, and has expressed several times that she is willing to change it up. Has talked about breaks, uncertainty about competing this season, uncertainty about competitive future with this horse. Because she has had a lot of success competitively due largely (I think) to her disciplined, consistent, tough training habits...I think that when she wonders how to improve something, that's her fall-back. Push through it. Horses do not always appreciate this approach, but I think this person tunes out a little when people point her to a softer, more forgiving approach...because to her, that approach is not the way you get competitive results. It is difficult to get her to see that success at the next level needs a balance, and VERY difficult to see that with horse competition, mental focus and intensity needs to include rest.

          This is a pretty common sports psychology thing. Witness the number of marathon runners with ruined knees and destroyed feet. When your sport is very intense, and requires a lot of mental toughness, you get used to ignoring small signs of pain, little hurts. Sometimes people end up mentally armoured against crippling pain, and default to the routine, keep training, keep pushing...until they literally can't do it anymore. The kicking out and stuff...that's minor tears and strains. Unfortunately the "marathon runner" rider is only hearing minor discomfort. Now, lots of people will look at this situation and go "well, they are both dumb, the runner and the rider. God. Common sense, grow some." Which, sure. But when you're deep in your own focus, the power that pries you out of bed to train at 4am, the determination that improves your time, the gumption that gets you back into the saddle after your pony bucked you headfirst into a jump...that power is the liability that keeps you running on a badly torn ligament. In my case, that power was what kept me playing Rugby for a six-month season with a torn rotator cuff. The "bell" that finally jarred me out of the cycle turned out to be a side-effect of Ibuproffen overdose...yeah, taking more than the bottle says can cause ringing in the ears.

          One way to get someone to re-assess their habits is to teach them a new method or skill. Put yourself back in the role as teacher and put rider back firmly in the role of student. Since rider is very goal driven, I would recommend that the new skill be something competitive with a specific competitive goal. My thought is Hunter show or short Schooling Show series. The Horse Soccer idea is a great one to get the shift...but I worry that because it is "for fun" this pair will experience a great time during the event, but return to the old paradigm for serious Dressage.

          You need to introduce some new ideas to how she trains for serious Dressage.

          As for the arena behavior, and as someone who has brought you many, many...exciting...lessons, I don't think it's a big deal to ban certain horses or block out certain times or whatever. My big mare used to scare the crap out of this pony rider at the old barn, her mom asked if I could work my ride times in around the pony. I was fine with it, they were willing to be flexible, the rider was a beginner, and my ridiculous mare even trotting did make the pony nervous. The mom was really nervous about asking, and I did have a little pang of "train your horse...mine is polite and well-mannered"...but the group at the barn was small, friendly, and I'm not a horrible human being, I wanted everyone to have good rides. I wasn't BANNED from riding with the pony, but I worked my schedule to make sure I wasn't making the pony rider's barn time miserable. When the coach planned lessons, she didn't put those two horses together. No problems.

          Your barn has a mix of skills, horses, goals...people genuinely like and care about each other, I wouldn't worry about arrangements like that one, just address them one-on-one, and be prepared to be flexible. I think that you might feel it's a bigger deal than it has to be. With the results-oriented person, just be clear about which specific behaviours have led to the ban, and also be clear that if horse/rider can achieve some standard, they will be welcomed back on an unrestricted basis. That point in the conversation is a good one to offer to discuss strategies (but at a later time, don't discuss training ideas at the same time, book a window for it.)
          Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior

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