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Always remember: your horse is your mirror. Your horse can teach you about your ability to be:
The most important horsemanship concept:
When you are with your horse, even when you are in sight of your horse as you go out to get him, consider every moment whether he is currently doing the right thing. If he's doing what you want, give release. If he needs to make a change, give pressure.
These decisions need to be made every moment, not just when you are in "training mode" or just during your lesson or only when you're paying attention... Every moment you are with your horse, you are training him, for better or for worse.
Horsemanship: An Extremely Basic Summary
Here it is in a nutshell. Reward appropriate behavior. Discourage or ignore inappropriate behavior.
A reward to a horse is most often a release of pressure. A treat or a kind word can also be rewarding but it's harder to use these appropriately until you get some experience. To discourage inappropriate behavior, don't give a release of the pressure. Wait. Be patient. Keep the pressure on while you wait. Escalate the pressure as necessary to motivate learning.
Start with a very light cue. Body language can be the lightest cue, and if you always start with body language first, eventually that might be all you have to do, and then you will have one very light and responsive horse. Don't skip over your light cue when escalating the intensity of your cues. He needs to be able to notice it to respond to it!
Be assertive, which means be firm and fair and clear and honest and predictable.
When things get crazy, slow everything down. Break it into steps. Reward the slightest try. Gradually expect more and more.
Keep it interesting for the horse and for you.
Remember that the pressure you put on the horse motivates him to do something, but the release you give the horse is what tells him that what he did was correct. Don't release if he's not doing the correct thing.
Don't set it up so that you wind up giving an accidental release - take things slowly so that you are always in control and able to be in charge of the release, versus the horse getting his own release because you've scared him and ultimately he's bigger and stronger than you and he's able to get away from you.
And conversely, release at the slightest try, especially for a new behavior or when the horse shows confusion.
Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard. When he's doing right, try to be as least annoying to him as you possibly can. When he's doing wrong, annoy him until he's motivated to try something else.
Be sure to let him know when he's right with praise, a soft rub or scratch, a chance to rest. The best reward is almost always turning away from him and leaving him alone with his thoughts.
Teach your horse that he can always rely on your body language to show him what you are about to do. Develop two body language attitudes: "horse stay with me", and "horse go". Learn how to change from one to the other before doing anything with your horse. "Horse stay with me" is calm with soft eyes and a relaxes posture and is used prior to approaching, grooming, tacking up, desensitizing/sacking out. "Horse go" is assertive, with square posture, hard focus, and is followed by cues for movement.