Training For Your Horse

Achieving a Level of 'Oneness' with Your Equine Partner

Tao of Horsemanship’s approach to training focuses on creating the optimum relationship and partnership necessary for horse and rider to be as one in mind, body and soul. This level of “oneness” is the convergence of mind, body, and heart between horse and handler/rider; and, it is where all three levels of joining take place, aligning and synchronizing as one. This is of the utmost importance as it not only supports the relationship and partnership between both, it secures the level of safety we need when working with an often unpredictable prey animal.

A Mindful and Structured Approach

Our approach and methodology is both mindful and structured. Specific exercises, combined with ways of Being, are interlaced and applied so that the mindset of connection is established first while pathways of communication are always present between horse and handler/rider. Acquiring the mind becomes the first level of joining up. Once the mind is engaged and participating, the horse is now “open” and receptive to learning. When the mind is engaged, the body will “hook on” and follow. The third and final level of joining is the soul, or heart, of the horse. This is where the truth of the relationship lies and what makes the bond between horse and human desirable, joyful, and rewarding for both.

Classical Horsemanship Principles

Much of what is currently termed Natural Horsemanship today actually represents a modern rediscovery of some of classical dressage, specifically Xenophon’s classical principles of horsemanship (first recorded writings of Greek writer and horseman, Xenophon, in the fourth century BC). Like natural horsemanship and classical dressage, Tao of Horsemanship’s approach focuses on the development of communication, confidence, balance, and harmony between horse and rider. The development of communication is foremost as it establishes a mutual understanding, trust, and cooperation between both. This level of communication allows both rider and horse to work confidently together and in harmony.

Starting Young Horse Program
Developing the Foundation

Like children, a young horse’s education needs time, proper preparation, and balance. A young horse’s emotional, mental, and physical maturation process begins to really develop at the age of two and spikes again at the age of four, reaching full adult development by age six. If an older horse has not had a fair and consistent level of education before the age of six, (six months to one year of consistent training), their emotional and mental level of maturity will be stunted; meaning they will act like a young horse even though they are ten years old, or older. This is one aspect of behavior that needs “re-starting.” There are other aspects of the older horse’s behavior that require deeper training or rehabilitation (rehabbing).

Balance and well-being are essential to living a full, healthy, and happy life. Too much of anything is not good. Too much training, too young, and most horses will become sour, shut down, detached – a condition referred to as “dead broke.” This is a desirable condition most traditional training methods seek as the horse is presumed quiet and easy. In actuality, the horse’s spirit is broken. The term, or phrase, “dead broke” was derived from the cowboys who were always in need of fresh, strong mounts to work the cattle ranches. When their horses came up lame or too tired to work, they would round up a few wild horses and ride “the buck out of them” until they were too tired to fight. When they stopped fighting, they were referred to as “dead broke” to ride.

Consistency, Patience and Compassion During Training 

Not enough consistency combined with short, fast training creates defensive, often hyper-alert, unconfident horses. Unfortunately, we see too many of these. Too many horses being started by trainers who don’t take their time and who don’t appreciate the individuality of each horse. A horse’s education takes time, consistency, patience, and compassion; and, it should be applied by a seasoned trainer who understands the importance of developing a solid, systematic foundation.

Putting Together a Strategy To Start A Young Horse

This is an important point in understanding the importance of correct and consistent training when starting young horses. We recommend at least ninety days to start a young horse and advise the owner to continue what we have started for at least six months to a year after. This period of training ensures a solid foundation as well as a level of education and experience necessary to achieving a calm, confident, and cooperative partner in your horse.

While our approach will focus on the following, we will create and employ a customized training strategy that meets the needs of both horse and owner:

  • Identifying and addressing any negative behavior issues such as fear and anxiety, dullness, opposition, lack of trust, aggression, etc.

  • Working with the horse’s natural aptitude such as natural agility, athleticism, desire and interest

  • Following the Tao of Horsemanship DVD Series and additional training DVDs including: Round Pen, On-line, Riding as One, Starting Young Horse, Lunging for a Purpose, Trailer Loading and Trail Riding

  • Exposure to new and stimulating areas (thresholds), as well as new and different environments such as training areas, trail riding, obstacle courses, etc.
     

Please email: support@taoofhorsemanship.com to discuss rates further. 


Training Contract: Click here to download

Owners of horses in training may come to visit their horse any time.  Auditing your horse’s training session needs to be scheduled ahead of time with the trainer assigned to your horse. We recommend one auditing session and at the end of each week, which will give you the opportunity to see the results of 5 days of consistency and development.

 

Re-Starting Horse Program
Changing Basic Negative or Unwanted Behavior 

Tao of Horsemanship recommends at least 90 days to re-start a horse. We strongly advise the owner to continue with guidance from us, or another trainer, for at least 6 months to a year after our initial training. This period of time ensures your horse is gaining the foundation (level of education) necessary to maintain (nurture) a trusting, obedient, calm, confident and cooperative (willing) relationship.

Tailoring Your 'Re-Starting' Program

While our approach will focus on the following, we will create and employ a customized training approach that meets the needs of both horse and owner:

  • Identifying and addressing any negative behavioral issues, such as; fear, anxiety, dull-ness, opposition, lack of trust, aggression, etc.

  • Working with the horses natural aptitude, such as; natural agility, athleticism, desire and interest.

  • Following the Tao of Horsemanship’s DVD Series and training DVD’s, specifically: Round Pen, On-line, Riding as One, Starting Young Horse, Lunging for a Purpose, Trailer Loading and Trail Riding

  • Exposure to new and stimulating areas (thresholds), and things, such as new and different training areas, trail riding, obstacle courses, etc.

Please email: support@taoofhorsemanship.com to discuss rates further. 

 

Training Contract: Click here to download

Owners of horses in training may come to visit their horse any time.  Auditing your horse’s training session needs to be scheduled ahead of time with the trainer assigned to your horse. We recommend one auditing session and at the end of each week, which will give you the opportunity to see the results of 5 days of consistency and development.

 

Re-Starting Horse Program
Re-starting, Re-patterning, and Rehabilitating the Extremely Challenging and/or Traumatized Horse

 

There are also those horses that are deemed too challenging, reacting with extreme (shut down or over-reactive) and unpredictable actions. These horses have developed extreme behavior as it is their way of coping. I equate extreme behavior as PTSD – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In most cases, the longer a traumatized horse has lived with fear, the longer it will take to eradicate that fear and replace it with trust and confidence. These horses are to be rehabilitated. When rehabilitating, we must understand that it takes two weeks to begin to shift a pattern, a way of perceiving and doing, and thirty days to instill, establish, a new one. If the horse does not receive consistency, as well as the same level of training after the initial thirty days, it will most likely revert and possibly become even more extreme. Please refer to the following website about PTSD,  http://www.ptsd.ne.gov/what-is-ptsd.html . Even though this article is about humans, the following paragraph relates to horses as well.

“People with PTSD experience three different kinds of symptoms. The first set of symptoms involves reliving the trauma in some way such as becoming upset when confronted with a traumatic reminder or thinking about the trauma when you are trying to do something else. The second set of symptoms involves either staying away from places or people that remind you of the trauma, isolating from other people, or feeling numb. The third set of symptoms includes things such as feeling on guard, irritable, or startling easily.”

Working Through Habits

Habits are formed through perpetual thought and physical patterns (repetitive movement) and/or recognition (muscle memory). Much of what we do and think is habitual, second nature to us, as they don’t involve much thought or conscious awareness. People and horses are habitual by nature, seeking the comforts of routine and habits. The human brain is hardwired to select habitual thought patterns as they chemically produce hormones that create feelings of comfort and ease. When we are in a state of stress, panic, or fear, we produce adrenaline which releases our need for flight, fight, or freeze. Equines relate similarly when feeling either relaxed or in a state of stress. Research using MRI’s has shown the effects that both adrenaline and serotonin have on the brain when in flight, fight, or freeze. Large amounts of serotonin are released from the hippocampus region within both humans and equines, proving that equines feel the same amount of stress and/or relaxation hormones, cortisol and endorphine, as humans.

Practicing Viscerally 

Practicing consciously, meaning practicing viscerally, by means of experiencing what you feel physically (through movement) and not in a robotic manner or what I refer to as “auto pilot” – just going through the motions is how we begin to re-pattern our neurochemistry. Repetitive movement aids in releasing relaxation hormones thus places us in a relaxed, meditative state of mind and being. This is what we practice and teach at Tao of Horsemanship: conscious rhythmic and meditative movement.

I found the following article on pattern recognition and neuroscience very insightful to parenting, relationships in general, and being in relationship with horses. I often refer to the similarities between raising and/or mentoring horses and children. A horse’s intelligence is as complex in emotion as it is pure and honest like a child. For more information on pattern recognition and neuroscience, please visit Linda Graham’s article; The Neuroscience of Attachment.

Recommendations for Training

Tao of Horsemanship recommends at least ninety days to re-start a horse. Most horses need six months of full-time training before they are trusting, willing, and safe. We strongly advise the owner to continue with guidance from us, or another trainer, for at least six months to a year after our initial training. This period of time ensures your horse is gaining the foundation (level of education) necessary to maintain (nurture) a trusting, obedient, calm, confident, and cooperative (willing) relationship.

Your horse will follow the same guiding principles and training approach found above and in the Starting Young Horse Training Program. However, because your horse is challenging, traumatized, and potentially dangerous, it requires Caroline’s expertise and skill set.

Please email: support@taoofhorsemanship.com to discuss rates further. 

Training Contract: Click here to download

 

Owners of horses in training may come to visit their horse any time.  Auditing your horse’s training session needs to be scheduled ahead of time with the trainer assigned to your horse. We recommend one auditing session and at the end of each week, which will give you the opportunity to see the results of 5 days of consistency and development.

 

Finesse Horse Program
Training for the Performance Horse and Rider

This thirty-day program is designed to improve your riding or performance horse. An assessment is required first. Caroline will meet with you and your horse, assess where you are, work with you both and discuss your performance/horsemanship goals. Assessments are in addition to the thirty-day cost. A total of six lessons are included in the thirty-day program costs.

 

Please email: support@taoofhorsemanship.com to discuss rates further. 

Training Contract: Click here to download

Owners of horses in training may come to visit their horse any time.  Auditing your horse’s training session needs to be scheduled ahead of time with the trainer assigned to your horse. We recommend one auditing session and at the end of each week, which will give you the opportunity to see the results of 5 days of consistency and development.

 

Boarding

For horses in Training

Boarding rates vary and depend on availability, time of year and hay costs*.

 

Please contact Caroline@taoofhorsemanship.com for availability and rates.

 

* Most of Florida’s hay is imported, especially quality hay. Only Coastal and Peanut are locally grown. 

 

*All horses require a 3 hour assessment to determine needs and level of training required. 

Please support@taoofhorsemanship.com for more information on assessments 

Please email us at caroline@taoofhorsemanship.com with any questions.

 

Tao of Horsemanship Equine Education & Behavior Center

19950 SW 5th Place Dunnellon FL 34431

support@taoofhorsemanship.com