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The importance of taking your Horsemanship to the next level

Horses have subtle and sometimes very obvious ways of telling us, through their behaviour, that things need to change. If we don’t listen to these subtle suggestions from our horse, the horse feels obligated to do something to makes us pay attention.

It’s our job, as horse owners, to continually build our knowledge and skills, so that we can be better for our horses, and stop small things turning into big problems. My first big realisation of this came about, when I was working with a gelding named Maverick who was the first horse I ever started under saddle.

(This is my wife Linda working with Maverick (on the left) at Liberty in 2010)



Considering Maverick was the first horse that I had ever started by myself, things went pretty smoothly for the first month. It was after the first month, that I started to notice a few little things that he was doing, which made me wonder about him. Firstly, I noticed that he was getting less and less enthusiastic about doing our usual routine. I also noticed that he would occasionally pinch his ears as he circled and sometimes as I asked him to canter while riding.

Because I was less educated back then, I dismissed the behaviour and thought it would sort itself out in time. As it turned out his behaviour didn’t get any better, and in fact, it got progressively worse over the next few days until Maverick did something that I couldn’t ignore. During one training session, as I was circling him, I noticed he was coming closer and closer behind me and then on the third lap as he passed close behind me he cow kicked me right in the butt. I was shocked to say the least and in that moment I felt pretty disempowered and at a loss for what to do.

As a result of this experience, I gave my whole approach a lot of thought and it became pretty obvious that Maverick had given me the kick in the butt, that I needed to start challenging him and challenging myself to take it to the next level. I realised that he had been trying to tell me for weeks that he was not happy with my boring training routine and the only way he felt I would pay attention is, if he made it pretty obvious. The kick wasn’t that bad that I had an injury from it, it didn’t even leave a bruise. But it did however have the desired affect.

After getting some help from my mentor, I completely changed my approach to training Maverick, which resulted in his behaviour going away completely. As soon as I challenged myself to become more creative and provocative Mavericks attitude shifted and so did mine. Once I was able to see my own stagnation was the cause of the problem I stepped up and empowered myself by taking my learning to the next level. I still believe, that it was Maverick who trained me to be the horseman that I am today and the valuable lessons which I learned from him are the core of my philosophy with horses to this present day.

Let me help you can take your Horsemanship to the next level by bring your horse to my Intermediate Horsemanship clinic. Have a look at the flyer here.

To book in for the next Intermediate Horsemanship clinic click Book Now

I would love to hear about your experiences with your horses, so please feel free to share them in the comments below!


Here is a blast from the past. These are some photos of Maverick and me way back when I worked and lived at Leconfield in 2004:

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