Natural Horsemanship

Equine Guelph researchers are continuing to put Canada on the map in the world of horse welfare research – this time focusing on the use of training equipment in horses. The researchers, led by Dr. Katrina Merkies, were interested in how often riders and trainers use training equipment, such as whips, spurs, and head-control equipment (martingales, draw reins, etc.), and how often horse enthusiasts not actively involved with horses think that the equipment is used.

In last issue’s article, A Foal’s Safe Trip Home, the challenge was to get my colt from Innisfail, Alberta to Abbotsford, BC as safely and stress-free as possible. At the time he didn’t lead and had never been in a trailer, and he was weaned the moment we left the property. Under these circumstances, I was concerned that the experience would be a lot for him to take in.

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The goal: To safely transport my newly-purchased five-month-old colt 1,000 kilometres to his new home. Recently, I went to Alberta to pick up my next equine partner – a Quarter Horse weanling raised by my friend, Ida Newell, in Innisfail, Alberta.

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Simple Exercises and Routines to Reprogram Dysfunctional Movement - As tempting as it is to use our riding skills and training expertise when teaching a horse to carry his body differently or when rehabbing post-layoff, this actually slows the process down. Somehow, many of us equestrians missed this crucial fact during our educations.

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Dragging a Log - Helping horses build their confidence in unique ways can prepare them for the unexpected. At any age or with any discipline, I encourage riders to find ways to challenge themselves and their horses by trying new things and teaching them that they can trust you when they feel worried. I see so many horses that are incredibly sheltered by their owners and, as a result, become so fragile that any little thing causes them too much anxiety.

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Build Your Horse's Confidence - In the previous article Build Your Horse's Confidence Part 1, I demonstrated how to build confidence around a horse’s personal space bubble by dragging a post with my new seven-year-old Canadian Warmblood named Bellagio, or “Geo.”

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You are who your friends are. That adage can apply to horses, too. How we treat them will often be reflected right back at us - for good or bad. Sometimes the difference between a harsh cue and an appropriate one can be subtle. Pressure can be effective, but intensity and timing can make all the difference.

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