The story I’m about to share with you will be practical information for those of you who really know how to use the Waterhole Rituals ™and who have trained a few horses with them. For those of you that haven’t, let it be “food for thought” for the future as you grow as horsemen and women. I want people to think about what is going on in their horse’s mind. No one should try the strategy I am going to share with you unless they are expert trainers with my Method or can see how it would work perfectly with the horse they plan to use it on.
This is how the training session went. Robin Gates, one of my Certified Instructors, was working for the first time with a mare that had training issues and she had been hired to bring out a better attitude and willingness in the mare. She started with the Ritual “Sharing Territory (in Companionship)” at liberty and got a connection with the mare. Once the connection was made, she asked for a simple request but the mare’s outburst said clearly, “I do not like what you asking of me.” Then the mare ran off to the far corner of the arena to pout. Robin went down to the end of the arena where the mare was, walked up to her and said “Good girl”, patted her and fed her a cookie.The mare repeated this behavior several more times. Robin told me that the mare clearly did not like that she could not get Robin to take any notice of her resistance. But finally, the mare gave up and started enjoying the cookies she was being fed. Once she became less resistant, Robin started taking charge. When the mare came to Robin for more cookies, Robin told her that she needed to go back to that same spot that she first fed the cookies to her. Robin then continued to create more rules about where the mare needed to be to eat the cookies and in due time the mare worked easily at liberty and loved Robin and the program. Her whole mood changed to being soft, willing and happy.
By not addressing the resistance¸ Robin shortened the time it took to train the horse. In no time, the mare could fully be directed in a willing state without the need for cookies. If you take time to put a horse into a schooling frame of mind without force, you will be able to use any method of training to its best advantage.
That night when she went to bed, Robin could not sleep because she was so excited and elated from the training session she had experienced with this mare. When the mare started out, she had been like a sullen teenager going on a dreaded vacation with her parents. Yet later on in the session, she was working in a precise manner and with a willing attitude. Robin was able to win her over by ‘rewarding’ the resistance with a cookie and then methodically easing her back into connection and responsibility through giving her challenges that won her over. This approach of giving cookies for resistance could have easily met with more resistance but it is where Robin put her focus that
caused the strategy to work.