KBR Horse Training Information

Exercising Body AND Mind

Gentling Wild Horses;
"Horse-on-Horse"

It's rewarding when a wild horse overcomes
her fear of horses and riders

Many adopted horses are very wary of an approaching horse and rider, even if the approach is quiet and non-threatening. They tend to display alert and protective attributes until desensitized to the presence of horses with riders.

One of the controversial activities at Wild Horse Workshop '98 was Dennis Bright gentling horses from horseback. Some of the natural horsemanship purists felt that this approach put too much pressure on the horse or diluted human-horse interaction.

Of course the products spoke for themselves. The horses gentled "horse-on-horse" were well adjusted. In addition these animals probably didn't later display some very dangerous characteristics that some wild horses can exhibit - a sudden and uncontrollable fear of horses and riders.

If you've ever been on a green horse that suddenly became mindless when a horse and rider suddenly approached, you can appreciate the need to imprint green horses that horses with riders on them aren't monsters. Some wild horses' experiences with horses packing riders have all been negative, from being chased out on the range to being herded and moved in the holding pens. Thus it only makes sense to desensitize these horses to the presence of a horse with a rider on top and make encounters with equestrians into positive experiences.

If the horse can't handle a horse and rider in close proximity, we start out in a more controlled environment such as the round pen or arena. Once the horse can stand the presence of the horse and rider, we'll move to a location such as the horse course where the horse has to think about obstacles and other stimulus and being around a horse and rider becomes just part of the "normal" activities.

Once the horse will lead quietly, we will maneuver through simple obstacles of which the horse is already familiar, advancing in difficulty as the subject horse gets the hang of things.

Zottara seemed tranquil and well adjusted until one day when a border was riding her Arabian nearby and Z panicked, literally jumping out of her pen. This was a fear which had to be addressed by a rider on horseback in a controlled environment.
The first step is to accept the
presence of the horse and rider
Next the horse has to accept
being "attached" to the horse and rider
with a lead line
Leading relaxed on a loose line
Leading around other horses and people
Starting on simple obstacles
Increasing the challenge, going in tandem
Increasing the challenge, side by side
Now the horse is logically processing her relationship to the horse and rider as well as her relationship to the obstacles.

Continue to Part Two


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KBR Horse Training Information, 1997 Lamm's Kickin' Back Ranch and Willis & Sharon Lamm. All rights reserved. Duplication of any of this material for commercial use is prohibited without express written permission. This prohibition is not intended to extend to personal non-commercial use, including sharing with others for safety and learning purposes, provided this copyright notice is attached.
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