Category: Charles Wilhelm

Dealing with a Horse That Rears

I’d like to discuss what causes a horse to rear and how we can actually set a horse up to rear. There are two basic facts to consider. Horses learn by pressure and release and, a horse can go six different directions: forward, back, left, right, down and up. If you think in those terms, when we work with a horse, we always have to give the horse a way out, a way to find release. If you try to close off all the directions, the horse is going to take one of the directions that you can’t block. In other words, you may not get the response you wanted and the horse may go a direction that you didn’t want at all. For example, if we want our horse to go over a log, a tarp, a pole, through a creek or toward anything that the horse does not want to go near,

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Working With a Pushy Horse

I see a lot of rude, pushy horses. Probably 90% of the horses brought in to the barn for training are pushy and do not respect our space.  As owners, we usually spend more time riding than dealing with ground issues. There is nothing wrong with riding and having a good time. We buy a horse so that we can go out on the trail, rope, sort cattle or do any number of activities.  However, believe it or not, more accidents happen on the ground than while riding.  

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The Influence of Natural Horsemanship – Part II

Another principle of natural horsemanship that has become accepted is the practice of de-spooking. Back when I first talked about de-spooking a horse, it was an unknown concept. Now it is a common term and simply means we are taking the spook out of the horse. All horses have the flight instinct and de-spooking is getting a horse to accept pressure. What I see now is that people are trying to make their horses safer by desensitizing or de-spooking them. They often end with dull horses because they are not willing to increase the pressure until the horse gives.

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The Influence of Natural Horsemanship – Part I

Thirty years ago, when I was doing round pen training, few people knew what a round pen was. If you were working in a round pen, you looked like an idiot that didn’t know what you were doing other than running a horse around in circles. Fifteen years ago, more people were aware of natural horsemanship and it started to have an influence in the horse world. Ten years ago, it really started taking hold and now you see natural horsemanship techniques, in some form or another, used widely everywhere in training programs. I remember at Horse Expos I attended ten years ago, I was the only guy out there with a blue tarp and people were wondering what in the world I was going to do with it.

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Personality and How It Can Effect the Training of Your Horse — Part II

We’ve been talking about the part that personality plays in the training of a horse. We know about the herd instinct and the fight or flight mechanism, but the personality of the horse is also an important factor in the training of a horse. Last time we discussed five of the seven distinct types of personalities: compliant, bully, indifferent, timid, and the Nervous Nellie. This time we are going to cover the last two personality types.

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Personality and How It Can Effect the Training of Your Horse – Part I

We often hear about the herd instinct and the role it plays in leadership and the development of a relationship with a horse. What we don’t hear much about, are the personalities of horses. I’ve worked with many horses over the last 20 years. I have probably worked between 25 and 30 horses every month. I’ve seen a range of personalities and out of that I have identified some very distinct personality types. In fact, I wrote a book called Building Your Dream Horse and I describe seven different personalities. The personality of a horse is an important factor to consider when choosing a horse and personality also impacts the training of a horse.

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A Word on Hoof Care

Hoof care is an important element in the care of a horse. With a
young horse it is really important to start foot care early.
Handle the feet as soon as a foal will allow it. You can prevent a
lot of conformation problems by trimming early. Sometimes a
hoof grows upright and boxy instead of at an angle like a
normal hoof. This is called a clubfoot.

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What to Consider When Looking For a Horse

Spending time on the road, I have been asked many times, “What is your favorite breed?” My favorite breed is any breed that has a good mind and good feet. A horse that is flighty with a high emotional level will usually never totally settle into a good safe riding horse. A horse with small feet will usually have lameness issues.

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It’s a Cinch

When the big day comes to saddle up for the first time, it is usually not a really big deal when you have put the time in on ground work and you have a solid foundation. When you have worked with your horse to desensitize her to the saddle blanket, the next step is to get her accustomed to the cinch. A horse’s belly is a very sensitive area.

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First Rides

We have been talking about working with a young horse, foundation training, groundwork, saddling and getting your horse used to the basic equipment (bridle, bit, blanket, saddle). Now it is time to take that first ride. The purpose of the first two or three rides is to get your horse comfortable with you or her back. You must focus on translating the ground exercises you have already taught her into under-saddle cues.

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