Monday, May 19, 2014


Alice called me one day saying she had a Mustang mare that she did not feel confident with. She had only had the mare for a few months and decided she needed some help establishing a confident relationship with her horse. I was delighted to find Alice a very caring, intelligent and concerned horse owner so it was a delight for me to tell her that I'd be very happy to see if we could remedy the situation.
Alice didn't know a lot about Sienna's past history and since she was, according to her BLM records, approaching 20 years of age that means she had quite a bit of history that we just didn't have access to. And even though it is good to have some history (the more the better) on a horse in training it is really not that important as long as one can simply read the horse that is in front of oneself - period. Sometimes too much history is too much information especially when that passed-down history can often times not be accurate.
Sienna was a very sweet mare that had some issues with accepting her role while under halter or under saddle. If she was simply allowed to live out her life with her buddy Mr. Bean then she wouldn't give anyone any trouble - but - when the halter went on or especially when the saddle went on she just didn't want to accept her role. And it could also be that she'd never really been properly trained to enjoy her job and her place in life. When horses are properly trained and find themselves living with owners like Alice that truly care for them and look after them let me tell you that those horses can be a true delight in a horse owner's life. Horses that live without the previous care and attention and training can be unhappy animals indeed.
Alice and I decided that we'd start from square one with Sienna and that we'd slowly and systematically look for holes in her training so that we could address those holes one at a time in order to build a strong foundation right from the beginning - even though Sienna was 20 years old. In my opinion there is really no other way to proceed in such a situation - otherwise without starting from the very beginning those unseen and unrecognized holes can come back to haunt a person in a fury. For this reason I usually begin at square one with all my horses in training just to see what needs solidifying or establishing.
So, desensitization through familiarization was the way we began and although Sienna had some difficulty with some of the tarps, plastic bags etc. in the beginning she learned very quickly in her clever Mustang way. Even though Sienna had been captured almost 20 years before I came into her life I have to say that much of her savvy was still incredibly present. In a matter of days she showed her intelligence and decided to get along and to even enjoy doing it.
At this point I should say I consider myself a soft trainer. What I mean by this is that even though upon occasion I have to demand certain transitions from my horses in training (which means to gently push the horse through it's own default barriers) I generally and fundamentally believe that the more relaxed the horse is during training the more the horse can learn and absorb in any given training session. My job is to help the horse enjoy the learning process by being interesting and curious myself thus keeping the horse out of his/her survival thinking; to help the horse enjoy and even look forward to interaction with me as the trainer. In addition, I choose to be instrumental in building this same scenario into the relationship between the horse and the horse owner. If it isn't fun and exciting for horse and horse owner then what's the point - and - the horse will figure that out and become bored and disinterested way before most people come to the same conclusion.
Alice is a courageous and loving horse owner and I developed a lot of respect for her during the time I spent assisting her with Sienna. It was a true pleasure for me.
At this point in time Sienna has come far in her training and Alice is spending quality time with her each and every day - the perfect equation for success. I look forward to hearing from Alice as she continues her kind and caring relationships with her horses. Keep up the good work Alice.
May all Mustangs find themselves in the loving and caring hands of an owner like Alice - this is my wish. Thanks Alice!