Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Artificial Aids

Equipment that is used to back up or fortify a rider’s natural cue (i.e. spurs, whips, martingales).

Rarely should an artificial aid replace a natural cue. Used following the first light cue, it combines with negative reinforcement, giving relief as soon as the horse responds. Used logically (light cue, stronger cue, artificial aid, reward) it motivates a horse where the ordinary natural aid might not.

Can you think of how an artificial aid can be used to replace rather than support a natural aid? Have you seen a horse become confused or dull because of this?

This is like people who yell before they speak?

Wise words from the Bible…

Intelligent people think before they speak; what they say is then more persuasive.
Proverbs 16:23

Monday, 12 September 2011

Testing What We Believe

At a horse show the other day a horse came firing backward out of a trailer, breaking the trailer tie (and the pride of the red faced owner) as she pranced free, tail flagging, touring the show grounds. Her owner had tied her up, and then went around to fasten the tail bar….

You never know the strength of a trailer tie, when it’s hanging on the tack room wall – only when it’s tested.

You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. C.S. Lewis

What I believe about horses – how they think, how they learn and how to manage them has been tested over the 25 years I’ve trained professionally. Tested by those horses who didn’t fit the mold or by inquisitive students who asked the “whys” in behind the “hows” that I taught them. Tested by people who disagreed with my beliefs.

These tests have driven me to look for the evidence behind what I believe. Is it really true? Much of what I’ve discovered about horses by trial and error has, in fact, been confirmed by research. Other practices I’ve altered upon finding that they were based on tradition rather than fact.

The bigger questions in life are going to be tested, too. What is right and wrong? Why am I here? Is there a God? Success and failure, illness, accidents and the changing seasons of life test our beliefs. Is what I believe really true? Did I or someone else make it up? Is it only a tradition?

Jesus spoke about a wise man who built his house on a rock. When the storms of life came, the house stood strong. Have unexpected challenges caused you to look at what you believe?