Measure the quality of your relationship with your horse with these nine standard natural horsemanship ideals. I've listed them in an order that most people would agree to be congruent with progressive relationship ideals. These are things to aspire to but not have all at once. In other words... if you don't have all the pieces, you're doing just fine. If you want all the pieces one day, work toward them methodically and enjoy a deeper relationship. This article was born via my question to new students. I always ask what my new students want to achieve. They almost always respond with a desire to have a better relationship with their horse.
How does one quantify that answer? With these nine idealistic elements of progress.
These nine elements can be things to aspire to and measure against to see where you're relationship is and where it could be if you wanted to go deeper.
A horse that turns away when being caught or when being let go at the end of the day, suggests a poor relationship. If this is you, check out the Mastery University to help fix the issue.
A horse that pushes, uninvited, into your space or pulls on the rope when leading, demonstrates a partnership with little to no respect. In my experience, the people I love and admire as the best leaders in my life, I also respect the most. Would you say the same for you? Would you dare say the same goes for your relationship with your horse? Check out how to gain more respect and therefore enhance your relationship with your horse in the Mastery University.
A horse that won't display positive emotion related to being rubbed or scratched in their favorite spots, either means you haven't found what they like yet, or they won't show you because they don't like or trust you yet. Dig in and find out what your horse likes besides food. It's important to build a deeper than average bond if you want a better relationship.
A horse that comes to you instead of waiting to be caught, in spite of the fact that you're clearly the leader and not just a treat dispenser, shows a higher level of relationship. Some people think they are at this stage of the relationship because their horse comes to them, but the truth is only revealed after some training. After learning they must follow and listen to you with respect and regard, do they still come to meet you in the field? If you've truly reached this level you're on your way to mastery.
At this stage, your horse not only comes to meet you, they come to stay with you. In a small space you can call the shots and your horse doesn't bolt around the arena looking for an escape. Not many people reach this stage. If you have, you're truly heading in the right direction, if natural horsemanship is part of your dream.
Moving to larger, more open spaces and keeping your horse with you, with no rope and no consequences, clearly shows you've reached a new pinnacle in your horsemanship. This demonstrates a deep trust and connection that most people only dream of. I'm not just talking about walking around the field together. I'm talking about walk, trot, canter, jump, turn, sideways, you name it. Your horse doesn't leave you when you communicate in wide open spaces with no ropes. All this is possible in the Mastery University. In fact I have step by step programs to get to this point.
This step can be learned by using treats. In other words you can teach a horse to gallop to you and bypass so many of the other integral parts of training but don't be fooled. It's the person who has reached step seven without skipping ahead that has the deepest relationship.
Many people think the relationship is based strictly on how well the horse likes you. I don't! I base the relationship on how well the horse likes me after I ask him to respond to me. A responsive horse demonstrates clear, calm thinking. I could certainly place this step earlier in the cue but, most certainly should not leave it out. The perfect horse is both responsive and trusting.
The deepest sense of trust comes when you see a horse decide not to listen to the heightened emotions of the surrounding pressures and instead look to you and ask the question, what do you wish to happen next. A horse at this level is not just willing, they are truly trusting. Imagine riding your horse at the walk, calmly marching ahead, while a herd of wild mustangs charge up behind, and around you, and what does your hose do? Nothing but check in and see how you're doing. That is one of the biggest goals we should have as natural horse trainers heading toward mastery.
I'd love to see you on the journey. Join me at MasteryHorsemanship.com check out my books, check out the university. Christmas is coming, don't miss out on some awesome educational gifts for you or someone you love!
Sincerely, Don Jessop