Wednesday, 27 March 2013

What’s good about Good Friday?

In my childhood, I never knew what Good Friday was all about. Overshadowed by Easter Bunny anticipation, I knew it had something to do with Jesus dying, but I sure didn’t know why He died. Now, the death of Jesus Christ has become more significant to me. Speaking to a group of teens at Teen Ranch’s horse camp last summer, I used this analogy… As competitors, we’ve got to play by the rules. Let’s say I got caught breaking the prohibited drug rules – whether by accident or intentionally, no doubt about it, I was guilty. What if the president of the association gave me a pardon, going so far as to pay my fine and take my suspension for me? Mercy! Good Friday is a remembrance that Jesus Christ died, paying the penalty of my imperfections, which separate me from a perfect holy God, so that I can have a relationship with Him.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Horse Training Traditions

That’s the way we’ve always done it… Sometimes it takes that non-horsey person in our lives to cause us to question the root of an equestrian tradition. (“Why do you mount on the left side?”) Other times, a training road block inspires us to look for a better way. (Is a nose band really the best answer to bit evasion? Is a fat snaffle always milder than a curb it? )

At the Can Am Equine Expo next weekend, Training horses: When Evidence and Traditions Collide is one of the seminars I’ll be sharing. Reminds me of a story…

I heard a lady tell of the time one of her kids asked why she always cut a ham in half and cooked it in 2 separate pans. “That’s just how you cook ham” sounded like such a lame reason that the lady called her own Mom, who was a wonderful cook. “Honey”, she answered, “I never owned a pan large enough to cook it whole, so I had to fit it into separate pans.”

Equine behaviourists are increasingly testing what we believe about horses through the lense of equitation science. Sounds clinical, but Equitation science is defined as "the application of scientific methods to assess objectively the welfare of horses undergoing training.” We now have technology to explore what’s really going on in there when we do what we do to horses. We can measure heart rate and stress hormone levels. We can take a look inside the equine mouth, measure our aids or digitally record every phase of a stride. We can set aside our human emotions and industry fashion for a bit and consider what traditions are best to hold on to and which might be better to drop.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Faults on the horse show judge’s score card

Minor, major, severe. Most faults carry a numeric penalty.

Trotting through a lead change, breaking gait, late transition, horse behind the bit.

When Things go Wrong in the Show Ring is the topic of one of my clinics at the Can Am Expo Mar 29, 30. Insight into the judge’s score sheet but also into the horse psychology of why mishaps occur and how to prevent them.

Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently. Henry Ford

Looking at the bigger picture, every “fault” is learning opportunity. Back to the schooling ring with a specific focus. And back to life knowing that we made a mistake and lived through it!

Other Can Am clinics: Training horses: when evidence and traditions collide. A closer look at some popular tack and techniques we use, based on the science of how horses think and learn.

Stuck in Schooling? 5 keys to get through to your horse when he’s not getting it!