I have had my new horse Plezant now for a couple of weeks now. And I haven’t been doing a lot of ‘training’ per say with him. For me, part of his training is letting him get accustom to his new life. And he seems to be settling in nicely. I think he is happy, and his happiness is very important to me. Not only because I want him to be happy, but also, this is a part of his training.
If he is certain that he will get his food every day, and if he is certain he has a clean stall to lie down in, and if he is certain that I will address his needs, I have set up the expectation of his comfort, as well as being consistent with him. He is learning that there are aspects of his day that are going to be consistent. And I have found that by being consistent this sets up my training for success.
It’s All About Learning
These past couple of weeks have also been a learning lesson for me and learning about Plezant. One thing I have come to know for certain is that horses teach people, and then people teach horses, and it comes in that order.
I haven’t rushed into a massive training program with Plezant from day one of bringing him into our home. I have allowed him to get comfortable, and really settle into his new home, and life.
I let he and Frisby get to know each other. They have not been turned out together, they still have separate turnouts and they seem to be doing very well this way. It’s also safer for them to be separated. I understand the herd dynamic, and how they have to figure out who is the dominant horse of their two horse herd. But that doesn’t mean I want them to be able to kick and bite each other. I like the fence between them.
For example, Frisby loves his food. And he gets very grumpy if someone else gets food before he does. He will pin his ears, and charge at the common wall that separates the two horses. Well, he did this for one day. Then when he understood that he gets his grain first, he settled down to his usual mellow self.
Every morning now, he waits patiently for his grain, because he knows he gets it first. And Plezant waits his turn as well. He is learning right after Frisby gets his grain, I will go in his stall, and will fill his bucket as well. But if either one of them start pawing, or getting impatient, I don’t recognize the behavior. If I acknowledge the bad behavior, and they get a response, even if it is a negative one, they will keep repeating the behavior. Want to know how I learned that? Yep, I did it.
Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
It’s a learning process, and while they are both learning, I want to keep them safe. Which is why I have kept them separated during turnout time. It’s a little bit more work for my husband, because he is the one who turns the horses out in the morning. But he does it. He doesn’t completely understand why I am asking him to do it this way, but he does it.
And here we are a couple of weeks later of having a second horse at home. And while it may not seem like we have done very much as far as training is concerned, we really have.
Plezant is calmer and has learned his new schedule. He isn’t anticipating when his food will come. He stands quietly while I put his blanket on and take it off. I haven’t formally addressed the head shy issue yet, but that will be coming soon. That is once I get him quiet and confident that his needs will be met here. I am establishing that I am his leader, and he can depend on me to take care of his needs.
And then when I have the time that I can dedicate to his training and be consistently working with him every day. And until I can make the time to address that problem, I will just keep building on the positive moments I have had with him to get him to the next level.
But with every passing day, he is showing signs of trust, and it seems he is understanding I am not out to get him. And the head shy issue I was concerned with is actually much better. We will see how it is when I go to put the bridle on.
Use Every Contact As A Training
And of course, my training is limited right now because it’s dark when I get home, and half the time the weather can be unpredictable at best. It’s cold, sometimes windy and sometimes wet. Not really ideal for training a horse. So while I can’t be consistent with my working with Plezant, I can keep consistency in his every day life, until I can get to the point where I can improve his training over 6 weeks, consistently. But thankfully, those days will be coming soon.
Consistency Is Key
So in the meantime, we work on consistency of the every day things I do have control over, like feeding, turning out, and respect in the stall. As well as putting on a blanket and taking it off. Every time I come into contact with Plezant, or even Frisby for that matter, I use it as a training session. I make the most of the time I do have, and we work on something. Even if it is simple, like don’t crowd the gate when I bring your breakfast in. Use every moment that your with your horse as a learning opportunity.
Beginning Training For Plezant
One thing that I feel is so important when working with a new horse is not to make it seem like you are ‘training’. But rather think about every contact you have with your new partner as a training, or learning session. If you look at every moment as a training session, you will always be thinking forward, and setting yourself up for success. And remember, even little successes are successes. So take them!
And when I am ready to take Plezant’s ‘training’ training to the next level, I have already established the ground rules, and my horses knows one thing for sure, I am consistent. Consistency is key if you want to have a successful partnership with your horse.