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Training Philosophy/cont'd

I like to teach a lot of the building blocks at liberty if possible. This allows the horse to feel that he really does have a choice in cooperating and at least with the techniques I use, the horse seems to really get in the spirit of the activity. It is very difficult to turn Oporto loose for free time in one of the arenas now. After he checks out who's been in there since his last visit, he stands waiting for me to play with him and maybe teach him new things.

Summer 2000
Photo Janel Bush

In the photo above as well as the one below, Oporto's left ear is riveted on me while he circles around me, paying attention to the whip and my body language. (He is slightly counterflexed in these two photos, leaning a little to the inside. This was resolved later.) He could easily leave and go off to play by himself, but training is not work for him, he loves the mental stimulation!

Summer 2000
Photo Janel Bush

In this photo, you can clearly see the intense focus and total acceptance and understanding on Oporto's face. I have just given him a verbal and body cue to shorten his trot, and I am now indicating with the whip that I want him to keep the trot active and forward. I often experiment with these cues when schooling horses at liberty to ascertain what each individual horse responds to best, and that encourages even more enthusiastic participation.


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Last updated October 13, 2000

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