Training advice, inspirations, and motivations all found here.
#1: Focus on the Emotional State to Create Confidence
This is a fun little video of Henley at about a month old. She was fiercely independent even as a foal. This is not typical for horses her age. But this is a by-product of good breeding and a safe environment. Jessie does an extraordinary job at rearing babies, even before she was so entrenched in systematic positve reinforcement. R+ has only helped things to become even better. Her babies have a great start in the world…IF the same thoughtful handling continues.
Did you know that trauma can be passed along in the genes? Henley’s mom, Hadley, is confident and relaxed yet engaged. She is also actively protective of her foals in the early days. Henley, grew up witnessing this bold, expressive, emotionally well-balanced demeanor and through social learning, practiced this as well.
In this clip you can see her mom is grazing and watching Henley but not worried that she needs to protect her from the world. Jessie also allows the babies the freedom to explore. This is SUPER valuable to horses of all ages but especially in the early developmental stages. When Henley came to me she was an exceptionally bold and confident yearling.
Her disposition was such a gift. However, the onus was on me to maintain this precious emotional balance. I was careful to nurture her curiosity and expressive nature while teaching her how to cooperate and listen in a non-confrontational way. So many horses change once their circumstances change or their training begins. It is not done intentionally but instead, by a lack of understanding of the horse’s emotional state. It often results in reactive, spooky horses, or in shut down horses who are in a state of learned helplessness or even worse a horse who has turned aggressive out of fear or lack of understanding. None of these situations are ideal for learning.
Jessie and I focus on the emotional state so that we can create (or maintain) a horse who feels bold, curious and confident when faced with new situations. We also want them to embrace thoughtful, safe interactions with their humans in any environment. Regardless of their individual history or genetics, we can help to create a more settled, relaxed horse who enjoys learning. We love nothing more than to teach people how to achieve this with their own horses. It’s a transformational process.