I have a friend that adopted a horse that had some problems. The horse, General, was previously used as an endurance horse, or a competition horse, that is run for long distances. Every time my friend would get on this horse, as soon as she was on, the horse would begin trotting and not slow for at least an hour. My friend soon became very tired of riding him because it would be such a long process just to get him to walk. The horse also had some issues accepting her as leader.
She called Barbara Dunn of Meridian to come help her. Barbara is a certified John Lyons trainer and has trained many horses successfully using his methods. She was more than happy to come help my friend out with this horse.
The very first thing she explained was that General did not have any respect at all. My friend hadn’t had any trouble with him recently, but Barbara explained as she watched him, that he didn’t think of her as leader at all.
Barbara used the round pen to lunge him. She told us that when she lunges, she uses it as a tool to gain a horse’s respect, not just for exercise. Many people, myself included, tend to run the horse around a bunch of times, but it doesn’t do anything except make the horse tired. She explained that by asking the horse repeatedly to turn, the horse has to start focusing on you. By using your body language, the horse has to start paying more attention, thus giving his concentration to you.
I hadn’t seen General before this training session, but by what they had described, he seemed a lot better on the ground. However, he did have a really hard time once my friend was on his back. He had absolutely no respect for the bit, and when she asked him to turn, she had to pull so hard that the bit pulled through his mouth!
In the end, my friend decided to return General, Although her family had gotten him as a family horse, she was the only one that could ride him. General had too much energy, and whenever she rode him, she was really nervous.
At home, I started pondering my own methods. My horse, Barbie Doll, had been acting really funny. When I rode her while she was in heat, she would do anything I would ask her to, except for stop. When she goes into heat, she paces the fence for hours. When I rode her, as long as she was moving she wouldn’t really care where we went, as long as she was moving. However, when I asked her to stop, she would do this little half rear, and kept going. I had no idea what to do about it until I watched Barbara working with General.
Stay tuned for the next article, in which I figure out how to solve the problem.