The Science of horse tack and training aids. Part 1

Training tack – whips, spurs nosebands and martingales. It’s a divisive topic in the horse industry. Horse show committees, popular clinicians, coaches, competitive and casual riders differ in their views.
In a sport where truth, tradition and emotions often collide, I’ve had to sift through the issues to form my own system as a horse trainer, show judge and riding coach.

Horse training jargon. Clear or confusing?

Mystical, humorous or deliberately elusive – the terms we use in the horse business can leave a rider scratching her head. As a young rider, I was a coach’s worst nightmare – “What do you mean by that?”, I’d ask.
I rarely got a meaningful answer.
No doubt, jargon adds some comic relief to the conversation. Some horse trainer lingo is just – funny!
But, are the terms we use meant to CREATE mystery or to UNCOVER and UNPACK the mysteries of humans working with horses?
Training a non- English- speaking horse partner is complicated enough without including unclear terms which train riders to give unclear signals and horses to be clearly stressed out! If we can’t describe our aids in such a way that someone who’s never ridden could understand, chances are the aid is fuzzy to the horse too!

Our horse’s welfare – who defines “abuse”?

One thing I love about speaking and coaching riders on the science of equine behavior is reviewing all sorts of studies to help sort through the fact and fiction of equine learning and horse welfare. Research ranging from trailering to horse training methods to tack – how what we do with horses, or neglect to do, affects a horse’s stress…

Responding to Pressure – horse and humans. Part 2

We’re always horse training – there’s no neutral. I encourage riders to be mindful of each moment – on the ground or in the saddle, catching those little resistances and using them as horse training yield-to-pressure opportunities …The payoff is my horse is less likely to say “no” when the pressure’s on. Fewer costly wrong leads, added strides, or seconds lost in speed events.
What about humans? 10 months of pandemic pressures have squeezed many of us emotionally, financially, relationally and physically. When I’m feeling squeezed by circumstances, what does it bring out in me?