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Anatomy of learning

By Sheryl Lynde | Horsetrader columnist - August 8th, 2018

wordpress_column_lyndeHave you ever felt you are at the limit of your knowledge when trying to resolve a behavioral issue or perhaps achieving a goal or target? You may not even know what you don’t know—you just feel stuck.

This is your starting point. Listen to your intuition. This is the time for honesty. As much as we take credit for our success, just as important is acknowledging and taking responsibility for our failures. You can’t blame the horse, the person who sold you your horse, your job, the limited amount of time or finances you have to spend on your hobby, etc. We are where we are based on decisions we have made or have allowed to be made for us.

Once a bucker, always a bucker?

By Sheryl Lynde / Horsetrader columnist - July 1st, 2018

Trainer TipsI had purchased a Paint gelding when he was four years old. At the time, I was living in Durango and I just wanted a good-minded gelding to ride in the mountains of Colorado.

When I did ride him in an arena setting, I noticed getting him on his right lead was incredibly difficult. He was used in roping primarily, and when horses come out of the box, they are on their left lead in order to be in position on the cow. The more I tried, the more animated his refusals became.  He showed his frustration first by crow-hopping, which eventually progressed into bucking.

Break it down. Slow it down.

By Sheryl Lynde | Horsetrader columnist - June 1st, 2018

Trainer TipsA friend called and needed help with a Peruvian Paso. Platino is a 10-year-old Peruvian gifted with a beautiful natural gait. However, his speed was uncontrollable. Lunging, working him off-line in the round pen, and galloping in the arena for extended periods of time only escalated his level of energy. He would walk alongside the handler while being led, but once a rider was seated, the race was on. Very little leg pressure was used to eliminate any possible cause for his need for speed, and the owner had had him thoroughly examined by a vet to rule out pain as the catalyst.

Platino arrived, and we headed for the round pen. I was aware that, physically, he was confirmed sound and fit, including a ruling out of gastric ulcers that have become so prevalent. Physically, he checked out. I moved him around a little using halter and lead rope to determine his emotional state. I didn’t find him to be overreactive, fearful or aggressive; quite the contrary, he was a gentleman. The next component that needed to be revisited was their training regimen. Since the current program wasn’t adding up to a successful outcome, a change was required in order to produce a different result.

Lack of Confidence?

By Sheryl Lynde / Horsetrader columnist - May 1st, 2018

Trainer TipsIt gets to us all at some point: the feeling that maybe you don’t quite have what it takes to make it happen.

Perhaps you have just entered a competition and are excited about the challenge of bringing your horsemanship to the next level. You arrive at the show and your insides are in a twist. You can’t believe you signed up for this. You watch the other competitors warm up their horses and you feel out of your depth.

Or, maybe you are struggling to get to the next phase of your riding ability and you feel as though it is a physical impossibility. You are out of your comfort zone and easily frustrated. Your movements are awkward, and attempts to execute new habits and a different riding style have proved unsuccessful.  You need to ride faster, develop a better seat, be softer with your hands, use your legs, stop leaning, watch the cow, etc. You know what you are supposed to do and what it is supposed to feel like, but you are unable to transfer your vision from your head to your hands, seat and legs in a time frame that you have set for yourself.

Think outside the box

"It’s important to keep in mind that aggression does not resolve aggression."

By Sheryl Lynde / Horsetrader columnist - April 1st, 2018

Trainer TipsA 3-year-old gelding was brought to me to get started — a stud colt until a couple months prior to his arrival. He’d been shown in halter and had prodigious breeding, but he had begun to display deliberately aggressive behavior like biting, striking and kicking.

Temperament of stallions varies because of factors such as genetics and training, but because of their instincts as herd animals they require knowledgeable management by experienced handlers. Even though this colt had been gelded prior to coming to me, he was still exhibiting “stallion behavior.” It takes about 60 days for hormonal levels of testosterone to become insignificant for breeding; however, the behavior is brain-related, not merely hormonal, and it can become habitual. Stallion-like behavior can linger well after the hormonal effects of testosterone have diminished, that was the case with this gelding.

Did your horse ‘fire’ you?

“Bucking is used to establish a pecking order. The unwelcomed behaviors are the horses’ natural instinct to test your role as leader in the partnership …”

Sheryl Lynde / Horsetrader columni - March 1st, 2018

Trainer TipsAre you noticing changes in your horse’s attitude when he is being handled or under saddle that is causing you to be concerned? Is he more attentive to pasture mates and other horses when out on the trail than he is on you? Do you feel “out-of-your-depth” when you try to safely identify and resolve the unwanted behaviors?  Well, he could be challenging your position in the pecking order. It’s possible you have been fired!

Smokey: A study of heart

By Sheryl Lynde / Horsetrader columnist - February 1st, 2018

Trainer TipsSmokey is a 3-year-old Quarter Horse gelding. The owner needed my help with some fear-related issues that Smokey had. Although he had been started, the owner had some concerns and didn’t feel comfortable riding him.

He had quality breeding that showed in his natural athleticism, but his moves were bigger than necessary and unpredictable. When he first arrived, I put him in the round pen just to let him get acclimated to his new surroundings. I stood in the distance and watched as he spooked at something, lost his footing and actually fell over — all by himself! The owner’s concerns were well-founded, and I had to get Smokey’s behavior corrected not only for the owner’s safety, but for Smokey’s well-being, too. Horses don’t want to live in fear any more than we do. They are looking for someone whom they can draw confidence from, someone to show them a better way to handle their emotions. If he didn’t get help with his fear at this juncture, then his reactions would have continued to escalate. He couldn’t resolve this on his own.

Removing trailer-loading anxiety

By Sheryl Lynde Horsetrader columnist - January 1st, 2018

Trainer TipsA client once brought a horse to me that had developed trailer-loading issues. It had endured an accident while being tied inside a trailer, and she had pulled back, resulting in minor injuries both physically and mentally. Subsequently, the owner had difficulty getting her into the trailer, and even once in, she would want out — and fast. She could fly backward.

If you break it down, there are a couple of issues here. In addition to her anxiety while in the trailer, she also had an issue with pulling back. I’ll tackle Issue No. 1 first, which is her overall anxiety while inside the trailer. If I were able to eliminate her anxiety and help her to feel more at ease in the trailer, she would be less likely to pull back.

To start, I removed a panel from my round pen and then backed my trailer up to the opening until it was flush with the other panels. While standing inside the round pen facing the trailer door, I opened the door of the trailer to my right until it swung flush to a panel, where I secured it. To the left of the trailer opening, I pulled that round-pen panel, so it was even with the trailer and secured it there, leaving no spaces or unsafe edges between the panels and the opening of the trailer. I left the truck hitched to the trailer to make sure it remained stable while the horse loads and unloads.

To judge, or NOT to judge

By Sheryl Lynde / Horsetrader columnist - December 1st, 2017

Trainer TipsWe are confronted with a multitude of distractions every day. It takes an ongoing awareness and effort to leave the world outside the arena in order to learn to focus on ourselves and our horse. Quieting your mind and letting go of distractions allows you to concentrate on your body and your horse’s movements.  Attainment of any goal you set, whether it is mastering a specific maneuver or overcoming a habit you have judged as a bad one, depends on your mental game.

This takes an understanding of the “inner game” of your mind. It’s the first step that moves aside confusion and fear, replacing them with confidence regardless of the circumstances or surroundings. Being focused on each maneuver is just as instrumental to your training regime as the reins are to the bridle.

In the book “The Inner Game of Tennis,” author W. Timothy Gallway defines judging our efforts as a culprit that leads to trying too hard. For instance, when riders continually judge or place a negative value to a habit as “bad,” such as always leaning in turns, they will begin to identify themselves with the habit itself. They bring this identification to their riding lesson and their focus changes from being aware of what their body is doing to the mindset of what NOT to do.

Clinic case: break progress into steps

By Sheryl Lynde / Horsetrader columnist - November 1st, 2017

Trainer TipsDuring the three-day Norco Horse Affair last month, I gave a demonstration on Dude, a 9-year old Mustang that lacked confidence. His current owner has owned him for two years, and prior to that he had been owned by four others.

Because of an injury to the current owner (unrelated to Dude), the horse had not been ridden, saddled, or even removed from the property for a year. Just entering his pen, he was apprehensive and reactive. Prior to her injury, the owner had been riding Dude with no issues under saddle other than the occasional crow-hopping. The biggest issue was saddling – she had never really been able to saddle him while quietly standing tied. She would lunge him, and if she managed to land the saddle on his back without him making a dash, that would be a successful session.