“It’s simple, really,” explains educator, horse trainer, and author of 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP Vanessa Bee. “When the teaching session is short and ends on a positive note, horses learn more quickly…and so do we.”
For all those riders and trainers suffering from the same bout of good ol’ January freeze that we are in Vermont, the idea of “short” training sessions probably comes as a welcome alternative to numb toes and frigid fingers. Try this simple exercise from Vanessa’s fantastically straightforward 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP for starters, and be sure to check out the entire book for other achievable, digestible lessons that ultimately produce significant gains in horse and human.
This simple exercise is actually extremely powerful for both horse and handler. When people shake hands, they offer each other their right hand, clasp and shake. Watch two horses meeting, nose to nose, as they introduce themselves, thus ensuring that they each have the other’s permission to reach into his personal space. This exercise begins with you going into the horse’s personal space to say “Hello” and ends when you receive acknowledgment in return.
1 Begin with your horse in a halter and lead rope.
2 Hold your open hand up to the horse’s forehead but do not touch him. Your hand should remain about 12 inches away from his head.
4 Some horses immediately look away, refusing to acknowledge the hand. Just wait. Wait for the horse to turn his head and brush your hand. Remember, the horse is touching your hand—you are not touching the horse.
5 When he brushes his head against your hand, drop your hand and relax.
6 Repeat until the horse is comfortable touching your offered hand, whenever and wherever you offer it.
NOTE: You are offering the hand for him to “shake” it. This cannot be forced so don’t be tempted to put your hand onto your horse’s face. This would be like a person forcing you to shake hands with him by grabbing you! You must be prepared to wait.
3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP by Vanessa Bee is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE!