My partnership with Mercury is proof that challenges can lead to amazing places…

How many of you view stumbling blocks and challenges with your horses as opportunities? Opportunities to build trust, training, communication and connection amongst other things.

Fear in the rider, Fear in the horse or both are common challenges. Other ones can be about a variety of things from jumping problems, trailer loading, separation issues, Dressage, Reining, whatever your discipline or goals with your horse, you are bound to have run into some personal challenges along the way. Challenges with your horse can be based in confusion, discomfort, and dominance as well.

So here is the REAL challenge. Can you stop, breathe, evaluate and creatively problem solve WITH your horse so that the experience strengthens your connection, trust and furthers your partnership? If you can’t figure it out today, can you leave it and meditate (even do some visualizations) on it and come back to it when you are more clear about how to work through it in a positive way?

The last few years, I have had several non-cookie cutter challenging horsenalities come through my program including my favorite boy, Mercury. It seems most of my clients have found themselves also with challenging horses in their lives as well. What has happened though is these horses have brought many valuable lessons and understanding with them as well as a sense of huge achievement when progress is made at home or in the show ring. Something you don’t get from an easier counterpart.

My horse Mercury who I have dubbed my equine four legged soul mate, Has challenged me at many turns with his antics, mischief, clowning, dominance and spookiness. I also have the deepest partnership and connection with this horse I have ever had. I have learned infinite things from him about stallions (he’s now gelded), the power of deep connection and trust when things get sticky and scary, and loving him for who he is purely and not his talent, athleticism and incredible good looks (he’d want me to add that…He thinks he’s a super model!).

So as an exercise, you could write down any challenges you are having with your riding or your horse. Then pick one thing off the list and see if you can find a way to make that challenge a positive growth experience for you and your horse. You can enlist some outside help or even ask me in the comments section for some help. Let me know what you come up with and how it goes.
http://fdhorsetraining.com/

FDT

Challenges…

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6 Comments

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  • Horse Drawn Initiative
    Reply

    Hi Farah,
    Great post, very timely for the juncture i find myself at with my mare. Over the last couple of weeks she appears to have had a personality change! She is softer and more affectionate and intimate AND suddenly dominant and aggressive too. i think spring and hormones play a large part (she’s 5 in June). Whilst out on a walk (she is unbacked) she refused to move and told me she wanted to go to see a different herd in the opposite direction. I gently yet firmly said, no, today we are walking this way, and looked in the direction I wanted to go and watched my frustration, breathing through it. 45 minutes later she decided to walk with me! Yesterday we went out again and again, in the same spot the big NO, this time with aggressive posturing. so, rather than have a conflict i took us back to our farm and to a large fenced off paddock and thought that leading from behind and gas pedal might be a creative response to her behaviour (we had performed Waterhole rituals 1 and 2 before walking out). I defended my corner of the paddock where the gates are and she put on a beautiful display of galloping head snaking and high snorting, which was great fun! She moved around at speed for a while, showing off her now more muscled adult form and i followed, led from behind, said hello, led from behind etc. The hellos got a lot more respectful and leading from behind was no longer accompanied by a “do I have to?” attitude! Sun used to be a very high fear, aloof youngster and I am enjoying this new bold turn. I would be interested to hear you views on her behaviour. Do you agree with my view that she is perhaps asking me for more leadership? I Have taken her for long walks with saddle etc and hope to back her soon, but not whilst there is a big no on her! What are your view on readiness to transition from leadership and partnership on the ground to leadership and partnership in the saddle?
    Cheers,
    Joanna

  • Farah DeJohnette Training and Equine Wellness
    Reply

    Hi Joanna
    Thanks for your comment! This is a very good and interesting question.

    I have to first ask if you have gotten to work with all the WHR with her or just the first two as you said. If you have in fact worked with all of them for some time, then you can now (as you have seemed to already), start to balance and experiment with which WHR will be most helpful in building your connection.

    For me, when coming into the time I want to “Back” a youngster, I will have first had a very firm bond and connection in Liberty work, I will also have a large amount of ground and line work on the baby. All with an attention to the trust and bond first and foremost. I will have Natural lunging and have had the horse working with me at Liberty and on line with their chosen riding tack on (saddle and bridle). Also walks out in nature with and without tack and possibly with another more experienced helper horse.

    It is hard to answer when is the appropriate time to “Lead” from the saddle for someone else. Because we all have different ways of working with our horses. So I will leave you to trust your instincts as well as your horses communication. For me, there is a clear set of steps that lead up to mounted work in my program so it is easy for me to know when it is appropriate or not. If you’d like to talk further in detail about it, let me know. Hope this helps:)

  • Horse Drawn Initiative
    Reply

    Thanks Farah, this is very helpful indeed. We have worked with all the rituals apart from the last (although i now feel it’s time to experiment with that one) for over a year now. I think i would like phone coaching with you soon, i shall look on your website for more details.
    I look forward to speaking,
    All the best,
    Joanna

  • Horse Drawn Initiative
    Reply

    Hey Farah, Things are going great! Since I last posted here I have been upping the energy and lowering the energy at liberty and we have had a few moments of ritual 7. Amazingly, the companion walking is now offered throughout our sessions, she grazes when i indicate a break and sit down and Sun’s attitude around the hello ritual is eager and polite. I dont lead her into the training field but rather she requests to go in each day by walking to the gate after sharing territory in the other fields. The best thing about this is i get to unite with her high energy, graceful beauty!

  • Farah DeJohnette Training and Equine Wellness
    Reply

    Great to hear! I think this is so important learning how to embrace the energies of each horse in a positive way and building connection around it. I like to help people learn to enjoy this interaction with their horses as opposed to avoid it. It is a great way to also help the horse to understand when this expression is appropriate and not. For example when you are working under saddle. Keep me posted!