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Eric Hought

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Building self-confidence in Tempest is going to be easy because she has a lot of her own already. She is easy to train and I say that because she basically tells me.
"Show me again, I can do it." She is open-minded and that is why she is so easy to train.

When I ride her at any time, each ride will be an easy, successful ride. As I build upon this concept, she will be more and more successful which builds her own self-confidence.

The only time I make it difficult for her is when she does not hear me. Then, I put her to work in a trot or lope. Once she focuses on me and not on herself, I will suggest a guide right or left or suggest breaking down into a walk. I do this by feeling her in the face and then hold that amount of contact until she breaks down into a walk. I release before she is actually at the walk. You can tell when she is going to change gaits and that is when I release. Remember that I am building a couple of concepts, 'All or nothing' contact or no contact, and 'response to suggestion'.

I have seven rides on her and she is subtlety learning. She serpentines at the trot easily and with no resistance. I ride her on dirt logging roads which have water bars about 50-75 feet apart. I guide her across or up the water bars. She did not do well at first, but she now has figured it out and will do either with little or no resistance. I guide her front feet and when they go to where I ask, I release. The release is key because, if you beat them to the release, they try quicker and that is what helps to build softness in response. When I am working with a young one, I try to ride with as little effort as possible. By effort, I mean that I ride dead center of her, no leg contact, very little to no weight change or no body English. Why? Because the less you do, the more effort you receive. They don't have to decipher if it was a signal or not. If it is difficult to see my signals and the horse is doing what I suggest, I am accomplishing my goals.

Any time I am on a single track trail, I give her all the drape in the reins she needs. I do not let her run into my hands with her face. The trail will guide her so she can go with no interference from me. I walk, trot, or lope on the single track trails, but I do not ask for the same gait in the same section of trail. Why? This keeps her listening to me.

What she is beginning to do is listen to me more and more because, this is big, she never knows what I am going to do next. She trusts me because I don't surprise her and I give her the same signal exactly the same every time, consistency. No surprises, and everything is slow, soft and I wait for her to respond.

10/4/01 - DOWNHILL


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