Gollehon Quarter Horses

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When I was asked to write my training philosophy my first thought was, 'No problem.' But when I actually started to do it, I didn't know where to begin. It's not that easy because it's not a simple thing to explain to someone. There are many aspects of training with each area taking up volumes. I could go on and on about each detail, but to generalize the whole training philosophy seems so vague. I will, however, attempt to put it into a few paragraphs.

Several years ago, I got a horse in for training that had previously been in many different trainer's barns for one reason or another. This particular horse was a hunt seat horse, but this would apply to a western horse as well. Though the horse was a five or six year old and had been shown, he had never really been finished. He was a world class individual but without the proper training he was never going to get there. He had been hung onto and made to do what he was supposed to do, but he had never been taught to do those things on his own...to be responsible for himself.

In the practice ring at the World Show a couple months later, a trainer that knew me and knew the horse had been watching me. He rode by and said, 'You just let them find themselves, don't you?' After I thought about it for awhile, I liked that observation. To me, letting them find themselves means keeping as much of a horse's natural ability as possible, while molding them into a finished product. I try to keep the man-made look out of the picture, which in turn keeps a horse happy doing his job.

The part about making them be responsible for themselves means teaching them to do what they're supposed to do on their own. I don't mean that I let them be in charge and not wait for my cues. I simply mean that they shouldn't need constant reminding for simple things. For example: I don't just go out and hang onto their face day after day and hope they'll stay that way when I turn them loose. I actually teach them where to carry their head and neck and make them think it's their idea!

Some horses I've gotten in, I've said, 'They're not in training, they're in therapy.' They have been so misunderstood that after a little while in my program, they almost sigh in relief as if to say, 'Finally, someone understands me!' The whole idea of training is communication. Understanding how a horse thinks and learns is the key. The rest is knowing how to apply those skills in a language horses understand.

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