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by Downunder Horsemanship

Training Tip: Stay With it Until He’s Comfortable

Regardless of what obstacle you come up to or what your horse is having an issue with while you’re working with him, stay with that obstacle or that particular hazard until your horse is comfortable using the thinking side of his brain. If you let the horse jump the gully in a hurry and you keep going down the trail, you’re telling him that it’s OK to be reactive and scared.

He says to himself, “Yep. My mother was right. All I have to do is use the reactive side of my brain and I can escape anything. Hurry and jump the gully, and now I get rid of it.”

I want to teach my horses: You know what? Your mother was wrong; she was on crack when she had you. Don’t hurry over the gully, because every time you hurry over the gully, or log, or stream, or whatever we’re going across, I’m going to keep making you go over it and over it and over it until you take your time. The quickest way to get rid of the gully is to slow down, think about where you’re placing your feet and pick your way through it.

Every single time you take your horse through or across a gully and you don’t like the way he does it, but you ride on anyway, you have taught him that what he did was acceptable. So it should be no surprise when the next time the situation presents itself, he does the same thing. But with a little time and a little effort, you’ll find that your horse has no problems with any gullies you might encounter on the trail. Again, great trail horses are not born, they’re made, meaning they’re trained with hundreds of hours of riding and getting sweaty saddle blankets.