One of the lessons that Phil and I talk about in our clinics is setting the bar. And quite often we are referring to raising the bar. We often meet people who have been stuck or stagnant in their training with their horses, and need some motivation or inspiration to ‘level up’.
There can be many reasons for people being ‘stuck’
Lack of motivation -- With the recent ‘unprecedented’ *everything* (weather, pandemic, flooding,) many people have not been able to work with their horses, and when they finally can, they feel like ‘what’s the point?’ -- They feel they have fallen behind in their training, and they also feel that they could put the effort in, only to be stuck inside once again. This is a genuine concern, and all we can say is -- your horse will thank you for it. At the end of the day he needs mental and physical stimulation, so at the very least he needs interaction from you to live his best life.
Being Held back. Traveling around teaching we see many people with many different coaches. Unfortunately we often meet people who have told us ‘my coach told me I wasn’t ready’ . Whether that is 'ready' for a competition ( I was talking to a lady who was competing in a major competition and came second, who’s coach had told her she wasn’t ready! ), or waiting for permission to try a particular maneuver or skill with their horse. As coaches it is our job to guide and help you be successful, and remain safe, but we also need to encourage you to go outside of your comfort zone and stretch yourself and your horse.
Lack of imagination. Sometimes we get stuck on ‘how’ we can level up. Of course we may have specific things we are trying to work towards, like cantering on our horse, or heading out on the trail or to a show. We often forget that we can ‘level up’ within our current skill level. I recently tried to do some of the Cowboy Dressage Partnership on the Ground tests with Boogie. Of course I know she leads well, but to put that good leading to the test and complete a walk, jog test requiring her to be led from both sides, do turn on the haunches, complete transitions on the markers, and be accurate in 10 and 20 meter circles -- it really did put in perspective how ‘well’ our horses lead.
Fear. This is a biggie. Often our fear holds us back -- whether we are afraid of physical consequences, like injury or a fall, or we are afraid of ‘what people will think’ its important to work through our fear safely, and with good support. You can do it!
As we head into the end of what has been an eventful year for almost everyone we start to think of how we are going to set ourselves up for a strong finish to 2022, and a fantastic start to 2023.
So take this as your sign -- Take that leap, book that clinic, enter that show, book an outing with friends,
For the horse
Train with us :
30th Nov ,1st and 2nd December - Cowboy Essentials Dressage Clinic and Partnership Day on Friday - Glenreagh Rec grounds - Glenreagh
3rd & 4th Cowboy Dressage Show - Glenreagh Rec grounds, NSW
15th & 16th - SE QLD Boutique Clinic - Que Sera farm
21 & 22 Taree Boutique
According to studies conducted by Dr Gottman & Robert Levenson in the 70’s and beyond, for human relationships there is a ‘magic ratio’ that can be applied to positive and negative interactions to predict success in the relationship.
That ratio is 5 : 1 - for every negative interaction, you need 5 positives to make up for it. (Remembering that not everything will be forgiven or forgotten)
I believe the same to be true of our horses, and, depending on the severity of the negative interaction - maybe more.
Despite many of us being interested and invested in reading our horses emotions, we may still struggle with what to do with that information once we have it.
Another factor is us understanding that it is the horses interpretation of the experience that counts - not ours!
We may wash a horse for example and not consider it to be a ‘negative experience’ but the horse does - so we then need to have 5 positives to make up for that negative - but those 5 positives need to be considered positive to the horse - not our idea of what is positive. For example we may think taking and putting the horse in beautiful grass pasture, or in a yard and giving him his favourite food a positive experience, but he may consider it negative because he is away from his friends (security).
Food for thought
Train with Us!
November - we are in Victoria, Australia
17 & 18 - Balance, Self Carriage and Transitions
19 & 20 - Obstacles for confidence and partnership
Merton Park Equine Mountain Trail Obstacle Course
Then we head to Black Horse Lodge to compete at the Cowboy Dressage - Come and say Hello!
Then we head back to Glenreagh, NSW for our Cowboy Dressage
clinic and gathering - November 30 - December 4th.
January - 21 day immersion clinic followed by 5 day kickstart!
I was lucky. When I learned about 'desensitisation' in horses, my mentor used to say, "Lets look at desensitisation. I don't really like to use that word, but I can't think of a better one. I don't like to call it desensitisation as we aren't desensitising them, I guess we are 'sensitising' the horses to realise they don't need to be afraid of things".
To me this is the greatest difference in the training ideas -- no matter what you call it -- flagging, bagging, desensitisation, exposure training - none of it matters. What matters is your approach to the training.
What really matters is your focus, and your idea of what is 'success'.
If your idea of success is that 'the horse stands still and lets you do it' then that is what you will be focussed on, and that is what your training session will centre around -- the horse standing still.
IF your focus is the horse understanding and building confidence, then you won't be so focussed on the standing still part. Although this could be used as an indicator that the horse isn't worried, you will be focussed on watching the horses body language -- his eyes, ears, his breathing, the softness or tension in his muscles, the way he carries himself. When you are focussed on the horse being confident and having courage, the rest of the 'stuff' will take care of itself.
This applies to all of our work on the ground, and with riding our horses. Our focus will dictate our approach, and our approach will dictate if the horse simply learns to shut down and cope, or if the horse actually develops courage and confidence.
You can clearly see in this photo that Boogie is watching, aware and engaged in what I am doing, but she is not frightened nor 'frozen' or just obediently standing because that's what she *has* to do . Instead, she is confident.
What are you focussed on?
Train with us
November 17 & 18 Balance, Self Carriage and Transitions
November 19 & 20 Obstacles for partnership and confidence
Merton Park Equine Mountain Trail Obstacle Course
Nov 30 - Dec 2 - Cowboy Dressage essentials Clinic
3 & 4 Cowboy Dressage Gathering and Show
Glenreagh Recreation Ground
Boutique Midweek Clinics Begin
Dec 7 & 8 - Bangalow
Dec 12 & 13 Coutts Crossing
Dec 14 & 15 Gold Coast
Dec 21 & 22 Taree
Photo Equinox Images
Health - CEN Horse Nutrition
Vest TukTuk Clothing
WildRag Buckaroo Bunkhouse
Rope Mountain Horse Trading
Saddle Peter Brophy Saddles
Cinch Cinches Down Under
Wow it seems like a lifetime ago that we were headed up to present and spend 3 fabulous days at the Cowgirls Gathering.
It definitely did not disappoint. We had an absolute ball!
Firstly huge Kudos and thanks to all of the CG team. The event is truly one of a kind and something you should all be proud of - Amanda, Naomi, Skye, Britt and Gen you did a stellar production this year. We appreciate your invitation to be a part of it. To all the behind the scenes volunteers and peoples - Thankyou! You helped the event run smoothly each day.
Bryan and the team at CEN Horse Nutrition - thanks for being our special guests at the booth - it made it all the more enjoyable to have your fun and friendly faces alongside us for 3 days.
Beth Yates-Sclater Tkh You know we just couldn’t have done it without you. To list everything you do would take a book - we know it and Thankyou for it
Finally, Thanks to everyone who purchased my new book, came and said hello and attended our presentations - both of our arena presentations had standing room only, and Phils class at our booth was interactive and informative - we appreciate your support, we know there were a lot of wonderful presenters to choose from across the weekend.
A huge thanks to Katie Equinox Images for capturing some great moments.
Looking forward to next year!