Train a Horse: Olympic Celebrations in 'the try'


One of the biggest reasons I have my horses is because I want to spend time on the trails, improve communication, and enjoy a positive, trusting relationship with both horses. Getting to this place meant I would have to learn about them, spend lots of time with them, develop our partnership, and learn how to train a horse. Through trial and error and some frustrations, I’ve discovered a key ingredient. This key ingredient is in ‘the try’. I recently read one horse trainer’s thoughts on ‘the try’. In his book, there is an entire chapter devoted to ‘the try’. He described the extremely subtle ways that horses communicate a try and how easy it is for us to miss the message. Sometimes a try is so subtle it’s not much more than a feeling. He also describes the challenges we create when we don’t appreciate ‘the try’.

I think it’s the same in our own lives when our efforts or our own ‘try’ isn’t noticed. Maybe we’ve made an effort at home, with our families, or for ourselves and those around us don’t notice, or our ‘try’ is dismissed by our inner critic. If not noticed or appreciated, our tries can begin to feel to us like they are never quite enough. These feelings don’t encourage a willingness in us to give more, develop confidence, or trust that we are appreciated. I wouldn’t want my horses to feel like this, and could understand their frustration when their subtle tries aren’t noticed.

So, I slowed down, started to pay very close attention to my horses slightest try, and I made any try that they gave worthy of an Olympic celebration. It took focus and patience, but my horses’ response has been heart-warming. Their eyes widen with surprise and gratitude, they are softer, and it takes far less time to move forward. Our training is slow because of our inexperience, but it’s no longer like “molasses in January”. My horses are more willing to try something new, there's less frustration, and I believe they are gaining confidence and trust in me. It’s more fun too. Everything stops for a moment when we savour the Olympic celebration. 

Happy Trails


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Comment by Vicki Holmes on February 6, 2011 at 9:36pm

Thank you.  The book is Mark Rashid (2004)  "Horses Never Lie: The Heart of Passive Leadership".

Chapter 5 is 'finding the try'.  I learned a lot from this book; I recommend it.

Comment by Jackie Cochran on February 6, 2011 at 5:26pm

This is wonderful.  Which book is this and who wrote it.  I need to read it to see if I am missing much. 

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