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Tao Training System

The Way to All Things Possible with Horses

Caroline brings a lifetime of horse experience, and over 20 years dedicated to studying both wild and domesticated horses. She specializes in equine behavior, psychology, nature, physiology, healthy biomechanics, rehabilitation and riding foundation. In addition, she is a certified Working Equitation instructor and trainer.

In her experience working with both wild and domesticated horses, Caroline discovered a huge difference between the two when it came to training. She found that 98% of domesticated horses were difficult to train and because they had already experienced 

trauma - trauma to the nervous system. 

 

Trauma to the nervous system is caused by emotional, mental and physical stress. Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which controls the body's "fight-or-flight" response.

 

Horses that live in their SNS most of the time are hard to train because their nervous system is constantly being flooded by adrenaline and cortisol, the hormones responsible for freeze, fight and flight. This is why horses have behavioral problems such as acting distant, pre-occupied, checked out, defensive, anxious, reactive and "bi-polar."

 

These behaviors are not normal, yet they are "accepted" as the norm, normalized
by mainstream training. What's astonishing is how they totally contradict the
healthy behavior of the wild horses.

 

In Caroline's experience studying and working with wild horses, she discovered that wild horses were vastly different than domesticated horses. The reason is they spend 99% of their time living in their PNS, parasympathetic nervous system, releasing endorphins and dopamine, the hormones responsible for well-being - feeling safe, comfortable, calm, relaxed and at ease.

 

This meant wild horses live in a constant state of well-being, whereas, our domesticated horses live in a constant state of stress.

The real eye opener was the normalization of stress in horses, especially training horses under stress. Stressful training practices are still widely used today and promoted by leading professionals in the equine industry, so much so that it has become normalized. 

These discoveries motivated Caroline 20 years ago to figure out how to develop horses so they not only felt great about their experiences (training, re-training, rehabilitation and performance), but were able to remain in a state of well-being throughout the entire process. When we consider the horse's well-being we aviod creating unwanted behaviors and producing horses who are unhappy, bored, disconnected to the work, anxious, frustrated, confused, lame, or worse, completely broken down from the inside out.

In 2008, Caroline created her signature, and proven training system, Mastery Relationship, Ground and Riding Foundation Program -

the only step-by-step relationship, ground and riding foundation curriculum infused with holism (well-being), emerging science and classical training for both horse and rider.

 

What makes Caroline's program 100% successful is its approach and its design.
It teaches you the amazing benefits of using a holistic approach to training horses and its designed as a riding foundation and apprenticeship program.

 

The benefits of a riding foundation program are many. For one, it gives you the level of education needed to take a beginner rider and turn them into an advanced rider. In addition, the education provided is well-rounded, diverse, comprehensive and strategic.

 

If you are a trainer or an advanced rider, there is plenty to gain as well! For one, you will need to learn how to transition from bitted to bitless and re-train your horse so they respond to the subtly of heart-mind-body energy connection. This means, no more harsh or painful equipment, excessive aids or force. There is a so much refinement and subtly offered in the lessons and like the dressage training pyramid, the Tao training system can be used to train young horses, improve more experienced horses, and teach riders of

all levels and disciplines. 

 

The benefits of an apprenticeship are many. For one, it offers you the opportunity to specialize in an equine education. You will be learning about everything Caroline knows and uses to develop students and their horses to their fullest potential. This includes horse care, handling, maintenance, husbandry, horsemanship and horse training (developing young horses, re-training, rehabilitation

and performance).

 

The curriculum is so thorough and inclusive, it teaches you basic and practical skills
as well as refined and advanced skills. It's that complete, covering everything you need
to develop any horse from the inside out, ground to riding, start to finish, rehab to recovery, beginner to pro - all the way to 2nd level dressage, bitless and bareback!
 
The following 8 pillars comprise the core training system of the Tao of Horsemanship methodology and are found within Caroline’s Mastery Relationship, Ground and Riding Foundation Program (MFP). In addition to the 8 core pillars, the program includes a horse-human developmental training system, 12 courses, a step-by-step curriculum with over 500 video and written lessons.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1. Attunement & Presence
Becoming attuned and connected to your horse through sensory awareness, intuition, and energy connection. Tuning into your senses and tuning into your energy is how we become present. This begins from the inside out and from within both you and your horse.
When we are present, we can hone into what we feel, thus feel of and for our horse, align our energies, synchronize, and become one in heart-coherence, thought and movement with our horse.
2. Spirituality – The Path to Conscious Horsemanship
Spirituality is a personal voyage into self-awareness, self-actualization, and oneness with all things. Being spiritual is a journey into our very essence, our consciousness, and our Being and this is where horses can be our spirit guides. 

Horses are masters at Being and oneness – living harmoniously, peacefully, and attuned.  They have so much to teach us, if we are willing to sit still, be quiet, listen and learn. The program is designed to assist in this journey.
3. Horse Psychology, Behavior & Holism
98% of unwanted behaviors are learned and a result of a need that isn’t being met. Horses are intelligent, sentient beings who do not thrive in forceful, controlling, and soul-destroying environments. They need freedom to choose.

Learning your horse’s nature, their individual needs and learned behaviors are key to understanding horses and meeting them where they need to be met so they feel seen, heard, valued and thrive. This is how you build trust, connection, conversation, and willing partnership.

Taking a holistic approach to evaluating your horse, teaching, and problem solving is how you meet their needs and develop healthy, happy and thriving horses.
4. Liberty – Joining in Mind, Body & Heart Connection
Developing liberty with your horse in everything you do is a result of everything working together. The program is designed to set you both up so everything you and your horse need comes together naturally, effortlessly, and harmoniously, including your liberty.
Liberty means the freedom to choose. We want our horses to choose us because when they have a choice, you know they chose to be with us, work with us and keep us safe – it just doesn’t get any better than that.
Caroline’s liberty is an organic, natural process, where you both learn to join in heart/relationship, mind/thought and body/movement in everything you do together, from guided play to grooming, tacking, and bathing, partner walking, leading, performance and riding.
5. Groundwork & Shaping Behavior
Taking what you’ve learned thus far and applying it to specific groundwork exercises and techniques designed to develop good habits, trust, confidence, and deeper partnership with your horse.

Caroline has very specific exercises designed to help your horse (at any age and experience) learn what they need to become trusting, feel confident and want to participate. Examples include standing still, picking up their hooves for the farrier, ground tying, cross tying, sending through gates, backing up and away, leadership leading, helping to halter, load into the trailer. Basically, you and your horse will learn everything you need to be able to do anything together.
6. Biomechanics & The Art of Lunging – Pilates for Your Horse
Many things happen simultaneously at this level of horse-human development. While you are learning how to develop your horse’s movement before you ride the movement, you are also learning how to embody energy, and rhythm so you can train your body to ride the movement. 

While you and your horse’s movement are being developed, so is your connection, communication, energy alignment, feel, and timing of the aids.

And that’s not all. You are also working on your horse’s emotional agility, and self-regulation of their nervous system. This is one of the most important aspects to Caroline’s careful and masterful teachings in her art of lunging. This is where and how she rehabilitates horses, by teaching them how to reset their nervous systems and returns to a state of being that allows them to live, respond and thrive in their parasympathetic nervous system.
7. Riding as One & Refinement
You and your horse are now ready to take what you’ve learned thus far and apply it to your riding – Riding as One™ in heart, mind and movement. Before you ride, however, you will ask for permission to get on, mount your horse.

Getting permission is more than 75% of being safe when you ride. This means you will not pull your horse over to the mounting block, tap them over or mount via the stirrup. It means your horse volunteers to come to you as you step up and stand quietly for them to wrap around you.

You have everything you need to know and develop with your horse, to get you to this level of consensual partnership, where your horse wants to connect with you this way and give you their trust, confidence, and presence. When you are allowed to get on you will work on the pre-flight exercises designed to mentally prepare your horse for easy connection and communication. This is the next level of safety. If your horse can’t respond to the subtly of your riding pre-flight exercises, they will not connect mentally when you are riding.

Pre-flight teaches you both how to connect and create a conversation through the subtly of your aids. Your aids are your intention and power of focus, embodiment of energy and rhythm, feel and contact for suppling, and learning how to ask your horse vs making them by pulling, force or pain.
Once you have completed the pre-flight exercises Caroline has designed for you and your horse, you will begin refining your horse’s movement through a series of arena exercises and patterns. Caroline’s training system has been carefully designed to include only the areas needed to create a horse that is supple, confident, connected, balanced and safe. Each riding lesson is designed to teach you how to ride the movement bareback, confident, and in balance.
8. Testing the Truth of Your Relationship
The MFP is your roadmap to developing the relationship and ride of your dreams with horses. It is designed so that as you progress through the courses and lessons, you can review, test, and refine where you are with your horse.

Testing involves getting to the stage where you can ask your horse to do the lessons at liberty, and/or with minimal aids, and eventually bridle-less. This means you are constantly reviewing, testing, refining as you move through the curriculum.

When pillars 1-7 are solid, you will have created the foundation in your relationship and partnership that is needed to ride anywhere bitless and bareback, alone and in groups. You will also be able to easily learn, advance your skills and embark on new adventures together without getting stuck, or regressing.

And last but not least, foundation means forever. Put in the time, follow the system
and you will be able to step away from your horse for weeks, months and years
and pick right back up where you left off when you return.
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