That is the best advice I have heard about training anything, especially horses. At the end of the training session the horse should be calmer than when you started, and so should you. I learned that from John Lyons, one of the best trainers out there. I have learned a lot over the years and I have made a lot of mistakes. Any good trainer will make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. Hopefully, those mistakes won’t be repeated. Horses are very forgiving creatures. They want to please and be accepted. Just watch them in a herd. Harmony is established with the pecking order.
The horse at the top of the pecking order keeps peace with quick, decisive action then goes back to grazing or sleeping, in other words stays calm. This is where a trainer has more luck training when the trainer assumes the position of being the one at the top of the pecking order. A lot of yelling, arm action, running around and chasing is going to get you nowhere fast. This will only cause the horse to become nervous and try harder to get away from all the chaos, when all it wants is to feel safe. The best trainers stay calm, speak quietly and keep their body language to a minimum.
When training in the round pen, I stay in the middle, always face the horse, keep my arms down as much as possible and try to use deliberate but specific body language. I want the horse to recognize me as the leader and the one who will keep him safe, so I am looking for a bond between us. Sometime this is established quickly and sometimes it takes work, depending on the disposition of the horse. I always want the horse to calm down as quickly as possible so as to understand that he has made the right choice and learn to trust me. He will learn quickly that I can move him which ever way I want and that I can back off and let him calm down also.
Staying calm also works under saddle. A relaxed rider is much more easy for the horse to carry than one who is stiff and harsh with body language. A relaxed horse learns quicker and will listen for cues more more readily than one who is anticipating a lot of harshness. Also, know when to quit. A training session will be absorbed more quickly by the horse when he can stop once you see he knows what you are asking. You can easily pick up where you left off the next time, rather than repeating the session until the horse gets bored or aggravated from having to do the same this a dozen times over. He will be more willing to be ridden the next time when he quits on a good note rather than be forced to keep going unnecessarily.
Accidents can happen in a heart beat. If you have a horse that is nervous or explosive, I would suggest taking more time to make sure you are bonded with the animal before you start. Then I would take my time in being sure he knows exactly what is expected of him before I go onto the next step. This may take hours, it may take days, but you will need to look for acceptance in the animal and rote behavior in the performance. When the horse is automatically doing what you ask before you ask, then he has learned the lesson well and you can move onto the next step. Remember, a horse will mimic your behavior, he gets his calmness from you. This may not happen in the first session, but over time he will learn to trust you and to look to you for his security just like in the pasture with the lead horse.
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