I can tell by just listening how a horse is being worked. So the other day I was in my tack room and I could hear my good friend Dian Morris working with a horse. She was teaching this horse to "square up" and what a delight it was to listen in. Now I know this training session sounds simple and yes it was but the cool thing was the manner in which Dian worked.
I would hear the deliberate sounds of Dian working the horse. The sounds had a cyclical or almost ryhmic quality to them that I liked so I left my tack room and went out to watch. Dian worked the horse with quiet and confident authority. She manuevered the horse by a series of blocking moves, appropriate cues and discipline when needed. Thus the horse was worked efficiently without undue fuss and bother. Incidentally, I dislike unneccessary energy when working with horses as I think it's very distracting for them.
Another thing I liked was the fluidity of motion and movement that Dian used. This a mark of quality horsemanship and horses respond very well when worked in this manner. She also made every move count all the while being completely consistent in her cues.
Dian and her husband Mo show a lot of wonderful examples in their work, of how top horsemen can train a horse without a lot of the unneccessary commotion that I often see. They make it easy for the horse to understand what is being asked of them, all the while reinforcing the basics the horse already knows.
I like always to be positive in my comments about horsemanship but I feel I must point out that some of what is being touted today as good horsemanship is definitely not. Some of the current methods are poorly thought out or based on old wisdom but being used in a manner that's misunderstood. The thorough understanding of where and why some ideas came about is being lost or taken out of its original context. It's a pity that some of what is being taught today is more about making it easier for the human than about teaching the horse.
In good horsemanship, the horse must always come first, then everything else falls into place. Good horsemanship can help you with everything else in your life so if you get a chance to watch good a good horseman who has a solid background work a horse, do it. Hopefully you will find it enlightening. One last thought, every good horseman I know, including myself, love to watch other good horsemen work. See you next week, JD.