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The great cowboys are the ones with the biggest hearts.
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Ty Murray


Taking a little bit of everyone

I was travelling recently with the organiser of one of my workshops and as one does, we began to discuss the current explosion in horse training methods.

I commented on how there is a trend for equine owners and trainers to take a little bit of each method they see and add it to the training they are already doing. At this point it struck me that there could be a problem with this process.

Don't get me wrong, I think it is advisable to watch lots of trainers and study and look at the possibilities. However, is taking bits from each really a great idea? Trainers have evolved their methods to work and how do we choose which are the crucial elements that make a method successful?

With the lady I was talking to an example suddenly occurred to me. When we taste a great meal of our favourite food we are likely to ask for the recipe. That’s fine, but if we then did what we do with horse training, we would start to add in a few of our other favourite ingredients. Perhaps we would taste a different recipe for our favourite food so we add that to the first one. We wouldn't really do this because we know that what we would end up with is nothing that we started out with and probably something we really wouldn't want to eat either.

This is a danger we run when we take a little bit of everyone’s training methods. For a bit our training might be enhanced. However, as we continue to see more we become more confused and our original training becomes more diluted and vague. We loose consistency and confidence in what we are doing.

Eventually our training becomes so little bit of this and a little bit of that and the horse suffers because it has to figure all this stuff out.

There is nothing wrong with looking at everything, but adding to your current recipe should be done very carefully. Understanding the science and laws of behaviour helps us to see what is true, what works and what is in the interpretation of the trainer.

Watch the training video with the sound turned down to see if it is really what you thought it was. Watch, learn, research and question before adding. Finally if your training is already working and your horse is happy be slow to change what you are already doing, perhaps change isn't always a good think.

I have met a lot of horses who if they could speak would be asking on a Sunday morning "oh no what trainer did they see last night?"

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