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Head Toss

By Sheryl Lynde / Horsetrader columnist - July 21st, 2016

Trainer TipsHead tossing, like any behavior, ranges in degrees of severity. One level may merely cause frustration while the next can prove to be dangerous to the owner with risk of injury.

A common habit many riders share is leaning too far forward. Instead of riding with their shoulders behind their hips, they ride with their shoulders hovering over the saddle horn. Then, if their horse tosses his head abruptly, the rider can get a rude awakening with a pretty good crack on the skull.

Easiest way to break bad habits: Create a new one!

By Sheryl Lynde / Horsetrader columnist - June 16th, 2016

Trainer TipsAs you improve your horsemanship skills, there will be habits that need breaking. The easiest way to change one pattern of behavior is to replace it with a new one. When a horse spooks or threatens to bolt or buck, the safest way to keep yourself and your horse safe is to use one rein and bring your Horse’s nose to your toe and disengage his hips. If you have practiced disengaging hips safely at home at all gaits, you and your horse will be better prepared to manage unforeseen situations that arise away from home. However, for many people their first impulse is to tighten up on both reins and pull. They feel a sense of security by pulling on both reins at once, but by doing so, this pulls the rider forward lifting their seat out of the saddle causing their legs to extend behind their body close to the horse’s flanks. When they become unseated, they clamp on with their legs and if they are wearing spurs, this can escalate into a more dangerous situation in a hurry.

Get Your Head in the Game

By Sheryl Lynde / Horsetrader columnist - May 19th, 2016

Trainer TipsTraining takes time. There is no shortcut to having an ability to accurately respond to — and correct — a horse’s behavior in a way that progresses their training. So, if it takes time for the rider, it also takes time for your horse to put together the skills you are asking him to perform.

How do you learn? By making mistakes, correcting those mistakes, and moving on. Making mistakes is the name of the game, and you will make many. Each mistake will shape you, strengthen you and teach you. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not learning.

Stand still: Patience is key in good training

By Sheryl Lynde / Horsetrader columnist - April 21st, 2016

Trainer TipsEach horse that comes to me for training teaches me something. As I approach every new horse, I bring my breadth of experience, but also leave a space open to learn. I am receptive to new ideas without any preconceived judgements as to how I can bring out the best in this horse.
How much pressure can I use until I get the desired response? How much time can I work on one particular exercise before their resistance turns to frustration and they cease to try? Are they fearful, aggressive, disrespectful? Have they been given enough time to learn the exercise?
There is one consistent theme that I have discovered as a common thread with each horse and that is: Take it slow.

Timing is everything, especially with fearful horses

By Sheryl Lynde / Horsetrader columnist - March 17th, 2016

Trainer TipsThe fearful horse’s progression into becoming a more confident mount depends on the timing of your release, not pressure. This goes without saying for any horse, but it’s most crucial in the fearful horse. Why? Because the fearful horse isn’t as forgiving, and a hole in your training is much more apt to produce a dangerous behavior.

Taking on the training issues, Part II

“With each ride, we increase time in the saddle and speed. Good training takes time. As long as I get one percent improvement with each ride, in 100 days, I will have 100 percent improvement.”

By Sheryl Lynde / Horsetrader columnist - February 18th, 2016

Trainer TipsLast issue, I introduced Bella, a 7-year-old Thoroughbred that came to me from Horse Nation, a horse rescue operated by Dr. Carole Harris in Huntington Beach. Bella was extremely fearful and exhibited dangerous behavior, like rearing and bolting when led.

Regardless of Bella’s past, we didn’t train around her issues. Instead, we met them head-on, and she progressed more quickly than anticipated. I used the appropriate pressure — if her resistance was a level 5, then my pressure was a level 6 — and I released only when she showed signs of being calm. She has been saddled, ponied, bridled and ground driven and, at the end of each lesson, she is calm. Her behavioral symptoms have subsided, and she is handling her emotions successfully. Now, it is time to ride.

Patience, pressure and release lead to behavior change

“Don’t train around problems -- meet them head on and train through them. This eliminates stagnant plateaus in her training program and presents opportunities…”

By SHERYL LYNDE / Horsetrader columnist - January 21st, 2016

Trainer TipsBella is a 7-year-old Thoroughbred who was abandoned.  All that could be established was that she was severely underweight and extremely fearful. She eventually landed at a rescue owned by Carole Harris, Horse Nation, where she has remained for the past couple of years. Early on, getting close, touching or haltering Bella was difficult. Even after they were able to halter her, she would frequently bolt or strike as she reared. Bella’s potential adopter, Diane, needed reassurance that she would be able to safely handle — and someday ride — the mare. Over the past two years, Carole and Diana sought outside help, and there had been improvement in her handling, as Bella eventually could be haltered and lunged. But her behavioral issues endured, and although Carole and Diana recognized potential in Bella, the mare’s reputation as being dangerous prevented progress – like being saddled, bridled, rode or exposed to different areas and terrain. Instead, she was relegated to her stall and round pen.

Is your horse truly broke?

By Sheryl Lynde /Horsetrader columnist - December 17th, 2015

What is your definition of a “broke” horse? You may be able to ride your horse, but this does not necessarily imply that your horse is broke to ride.
For instance, does your horse kick out or buck when you urge him to go forward? Does he spook or bolt frequently, or panic while out on the trail when his companion horse gets out of sight? Does he threaten to rear when asked to leave the barn, or need to be in the lead position when riding in a group?

Rearing to Go, Part 2: Time to hit the trail

By Sheryl Lynde / Horsetrader columnist - November 20th, 2015

“When I try to ride my horse away from the barn, he starts popping up in the front and refuses to go forward. The more I kick, the higher he goes and I no longer feel safe.”

Even though this was the initial concern of my client and, as discussed in Rearing to Go, Part 1 in my column last month, trail is not where we started. We worked on his issues of lack of respect, lack of lateral softness, and a no-go attitude in the first week of training — beginning in the round pen, and then graduating to the arena.

In order to correct the lack of respect safely, I needed lateral softness. I spent the first week just softening his head, neck, shoulders and rib cage by taking the slack out of one rein at a time and adding leg pressure until he softened. I began by taking the slack out slowly because he became easily frustrated and was ready to rear. Also, because of his resistance and lack of softness in his body, if I was too quick with my hands, I ran the risk of him falling over. Maintaining and increasing pressure from both my legs was important for three reasons. First, by keeping forward momentum with the slack out of one rein limited his ability to pop up. Secondly, using my legs loosened up his rib cage and helped soften him laterally. Third, he needs to respect the use of leg pressure.

Diligence and consistency can work through ‘buddy sour’ behavior

“The hardest part of teaching is to get people to push past their comfort zone, but that is where growth takes place.”

written by SHERYL LYNDE / Horsetrader columnist - June 18th, 2015

SherylLynde_170pxSome horses are independent. They exhibit a low level of separation anxiety that can be handled easily by the rider. Other horses display a strong herd-bound mentality that, when separated from their companions, creates an almost dangerous behavior.

This is partly their personality, and just like people, horses have different traits. However, whenever you interact with your horse, you are either (A) supporting or (B) correcting the behavior.