Terminology

The horse community is full of people using very unclear language. Unless you know what something means how can you know what I’m talking about? These are my definitions for things I reference in this blog:

CLICKER TRAINING: a scientifically proven method to train animals that has been around for 50 plus years. It uses a marker (such as a clicker) to mark desired behavior and is followed by a food reward. This is a positive reinforcement training tool (+R) which I often use, although it is not my only method of training.

LIBERTY: the horse is in a large enough area that the horse could leave at any time and not come back during the interaction. He is wearing no tack (halter, leadrope, bridle, saddle etc…). Liberty work evolved from trick training and circuses; don’t buy into the fantasy that Pat Parelli or Carolyn Resnick invented it – this is simply not true.

As the trainer, I carry a whip to give cues and for protection if something goes wrong – when working a Horse at Liberty the state of play can get very excited and sometimes aggressive. Training methods for Liberty include clicker training and mimicry.

MIMICRY: Many animals learn through copying another of their own species, this can be used to your advantage when working a horse at Liberty etc… For instance, raising a leg up high will often elicit a horse to raise their own leg – such as pawing. A more energetic step with high knees, might encourage your horse to move into a trot from walk. Klaus Hempfling is a master of mimicry and if you have a chance to watch his videos, do so!

GROUND WORK: from the ground, the trainer works the horse with a Cavesson (bitless headgear with three rings on the nose), with ONE line/leadrope/lungeline, and a whip. The horse is taught bending, proper movement and the signals from the whip. The trainer is working very near the horse.

While some people like to use a halter for this work, I prefer a properly fitted Cavesson as it gives better control over the head and promotes a more sensitive communication.

IN HAND WORK: from the ground, the trainer works closely near the horse who is usually a bridle with bit, TWO reins and uses a whip for signals. It is an advancement from Ground Work in that the bit provides finer control through communication with the reins to the bit, as well as encouraging contact with the rider’s hands.

LUNGEWORK (LONGEWORK): from the ground, the trainer works the horse with a Cavesson or Bridle (with bit) and the whip is used to teach the leg aids as the horse continues to advance in his education. Generally, the horse is worked on a circle or oval, with the trainer in the middle but also advancing towards the horse’s shoulder as the horse circles.

I don’t do “American” lunging which is just shooting a horse around a circle until he wears out – have a teaching goal! My personal goal is to have proper bend and to teach stretching down to work the back.

LONG & LOW: probably one of the most misunderstood dressage training methods out there… this doesn’t mean peanut rollers who are pushing the ground with their nose (or the so-called Hunter Equitation “frame) as they show off their broken trot to the AQHA judge; and it doesn’t mean Rolkur. So what does it mean?

It means working the horse in a consistent gymnastic exercise with the neck lowered (beware! the nose can be down and the back can still be inverted) through the proper bend of the horse (usually on a circle, but also shoulder in) so the hind leg comes under the horses’ center of weight which pushes the back up.

Once the back gains strength the center of the horse’s weight shifts to the hindquarters, allowing collection and self carriage. In the blog, see the categories: Art2Ride and Straightness Training for more information…

TTEAM & TTOUCH – a method of training and working the horse developed by Linda Tellington-Jones. I like a lot of her teachings (please see the blog though for complete commentary) and I think for the beginner you can’t go wrong checking out her information.

TTOUCH is a physical touch given to various parts of the horses body to encourage better balance and groundedness. TTEAM deals more with her riding tools such as a sidepull, specialized bit, cordeo etc…

NATURAL HORSEMANSHIP: Unfortunately, this isn’t as good for the horse as it sounds. This is Western “Cowboy” Training techniques that modern trainers (who are not really cowboys) have grabbed onto and slapped a pretty label to give lipstick to a pig. Natural Horsemanship came into the Horse World full blow under Monty Roberts in the 1990’s with his Round Pen Medicine Miracle Show and continues with folks like John Lyons, Ray Hunt, Tom and Bill Dorrance, Pat Parelli, and Clinton Anderson.

This type of training has it’s roots in dominance, forcing compliance and obedience through psychological and physical pressure on a horse who cannot escape, tying up (i.e. snubbing a horse to a post so it can’t move when  you “sack it out”), laying the horse down, and Round pen work. I do not subscribe to these methods and hold most of these people in utter contempt.