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huntseater

Establishing Leadership And Confidence

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I don't do anything. The horse just knows that I am the boss and any time he steps out of line I am there to put him back in.

If you have to ask then probably you are not the boss and only playing at being one.

Animals know and you can't fool them

Over and over I have watched people give up and sell because they are not boss material and the horse quickly figures that out

You either are or you not and playing games is not going to change that.

Pick a horse that you can dominate and leave the stronger ones to someone else.

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I agree with DR. I don't think exercises teach your horse to respect you.

Respect has to be earned and with horses, I believe it is done with swiftness and fairness. Horse steps out of line? Be the Boss Mare and put the horse back into line, then immediately forget about it and go on about your business. (swift, yet fair, correction when the horse misbehaves ~ boss horses reprimand instantly and then stop as soon as the other yields) Act as if you expect the horse to follow along, just like the Boss Mare expects of their herd, and they will follow. Boss Mares don't look around to see if everyone is following them. If you are looking at your horse, the horse may interpret that as *you* looking to *the horse* to be the leader.

Now, I'm not against ground work or exercises, I believe they have their place, especially developing feel and control with tack and body cues. I simply think there needs to be a purpose to "those games" so they don't become *only* games to the horse.

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just to get away from "theory" here and talk about practice, teaching your horse to stay out of your personal space is always a productive thing. you can accomplish this by teaching him to back up, come to you and go sideways away from you and to you on the ground. he will start to read your body language which all horses do with the boss mare.

i think all horses have to learn respect, which the boss mare teaches them. just go out and watch a bunch of horses for awhile and see what happens. there are a lot of dominance games going on. you don't need to be mean, just bossy.

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You don't need to play games, but simply handle a horse in such a way that it is clear who is the leader, each and every time

The leader can at any time, make that other horse yield space, or move his feet. , or any body part he is asked to move.

When you lead him, for instance, make him walk on a loose shank beside you, not crowding your space, not rushing ahead, not dragging behind

Whoa means stop and stand until asked to move.

In other words, just basic good horse handling techniques, recognizing when a horse is testing as to who is leading who, then make it clear in his mind that you are!

Horses are a herd/prey species that get confidence from strong, clear, but fair leadership. If you don't lead, they will!

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Trust is a very broad goal. Be worthy of their trust; confident, fair and honorable.

I remember desensitizing my filly to plastic bags. I had walked around to the back of the house while carrying a plastic grocery bag and as I walked, my arms swung the bag back and forth so it fluttered and rustled. I noticed my filly "startle" at the noise and movement of what I was carrying. So I continued walking along the fence, keeping my pace steady and letting the bag rustle and flutter in my hand as she came up behind me to see what I was carrying. (she *hated* to be ignored and always wanted to be present for whatever project we were working on) After following me around the inside of the fence for several yards, I stopped and let her investigate the bag. I never had any problems introducing her to new things.

I think every horse will be different, depending on their own personality and you'll simply have to find what works for you and your horse. My little story is just one experience between my horse and myself, but it is those many "little things" that add up into creating a good horse. My filly was inquisitive and I used that to our advantage. You need to find your horse's strengths and build on those.

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In my mind, respect and trust go hand in hand, again going back to horse's innate herd/prey mentality

Horses respect and trust a strong leader, and why they will follow that leader without question

For instance, if you see an object up ahead that you think your horse might shy at, and tense up, your horse has no way of knowing that you are tensing because you fear his reaction, only that his rider/leader shares his apprehension .

Easier said then done, but you need to continue to ride forward in a relaxed manner, with what is known as 'soft eyes', versus staring at that object, letting your horse loose forward momentum, stop, with head up,, thus in flight mode. By being a confident rider, your horse learns to trust your judgement , knows that you are 'looking out for the lion', so he does not have to, and thus learns not to question as to where he lets you lead or ride him

While de spooking a horse to some objects is okay, I don't spend a lot of ground work trying to expose a horse to each and everything he might ever encounter, as there will always be something that you encounter without any previous exposure, and it is then that the ingrained obedience to your cues and body control that you have on that horse, by having ridden him in a confident manner, will pay off.

As a prey species, horses are very tuned in to slight body language. In order for your horse to trust you, you have to be that leader who extrudes confidence, who is fair, yet firm, and no games are going to help establish that, JMO

It is also why a confident rider can ride a horse calmly past a spooky spot that a timid rider could not. Watch a herd of horses. Ever see a lead horse, often a mare, spot something and then stare at it, with the other horses also tensing up and become on the alert? Soon as that lead mare relaxes, having identified that object as non threatening, the rest of the herd also goes back to grazing?

That is a demonstration of trust

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I was thinking more for trust, my horse respects me and my space

maybe i misunderstood your OP but you talked about respect. trust has to do with consistency, being emotionally stabile in yourself, not freaking out if the horse freaks out, that he can can count on you to remain calm no matter what? if that's what you mean then yes you need to work on yourself to bring that kind of energy accross, because that's what they FEEL. and you unfortunately can't fake it.

think of yourself as a passenger on a ship. you need to trust the captain, so ask yourself what you would want to see in his behavior.

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Also keep in mind just because one has established trust/respect on the ground it still has to be translated to the saddle. I only mention this as often times folks that practice NH often can work a horse from the ground but don't always have the confidence when to put pressure on the horse to overcome challenges when being ridden. That's were one starts really putting the wet blankets and exposer on a horse. That takes confidence as has been said by the rider. A confident rider knows they have the body control to handle the horse or push them when they need to. This is why a lot of folks like a professional or skilled rider to start that horse right for the first 60 to 90 days.

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I think that it all comes down to wet saddle blankets.

I don't do groundwork, meaning I don't go out to practice particular exercises, with an agenda in mind. I do handle every horse almost every day, and I expect them to cooperate with me, making my chores easy. If they don't, they will do some work until the lesson sinks in. My long term horses are so tuned in to me, I rarely even ask them for anything. They follow my eyes and feet, and know what I want, what I'm trying to accomplish. Rocky is still learning, so occasionally he'll need a reminder. I get big and firm and loud and will use whatever it takes to get his attention - which involved pushing him back (with my foot to his chest) a couple of days ago, when he got pushy at the gate. We then worked on standing, waiting, backing, and listening, and holy heck, he got it. I won't have a gate crasher, and now he knows!

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What are some of the best/your favorite ground exercises that help teach your horse to respect you as leader and to become more confident in you?

Perhaps another way to phrase this question would be "What are some things that I can do to improve my role as a leader with my horse?" As already mentioned, this particular aspect of training has much less to do with getting your horse to do things and much more to do with you, as the trainer, learning how to effectively communicate what you want to your horse.

I'm just repeating what other folks have already said really... but

1) Figure out how a horse should respond to a leader. Are they aware of you and your space? Do they respond when you tell them to move away? Are they paying attention to you? Do they accept and willingly follow your direction even if they are unsure?

2) Determine how each of those things that would make you the leader might be accomplished. How would you get a horse to respect your personal space and pay attention to you so they don't get in your way? How would you get a horse to move away from pressure when asked? How would you get their attention back on you when they get distracted by something? What would encourage a horse to trust your judgement of a situation and follow you into it even if they are unsure, how would you practice that?

3) Evaluate your own competency, get input, adjust as necessary. Don't let yourself get into a situation where you are essentially overmounted in a handler sense. Some horse people are not equipped to handle all horses. There is nothing scarier than watching someone who is a little unsure about what to do with a situation be completely overshadowed by what their horse decides to do. You can spot it sometimes just watching someone lead a horse in from the barn. Make adjustments.... if you don't know how to make the adjustments based on your horse, you need help.

4) Put it to practice.

5) Evaluate and readjust your approach.

6) Repeat steps 4 & 5 for the remainder of your life.

Some ground exercises I like.... grooming (yes grooming... polite, well behaved grooming). Yield to pressure from any point... poll, shoulder, neck, noses, barrel, hips, hock, butt... pick a spot and your horse should respond when you apply pressure. Leading over, under, through, around, behind anything you can come up with... bridges, ditches, tarps, poles, narrow spaces. Lunging... responding to your body language.. go, faster, slower, stop, turn.

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What are some of the best/your favorite ground exercises that help teach your horse to respect you as leader and to become more confident in you?

That was the original post question, and the OP further elaborated that the horse is already respectful on the ground, and is looking more for the confidence end of things, far as exercises, and I for one don't think ground exercises really translate to confidence under saddle. I know of people that lead their horses all over the place, yet can't ride them through those things
Yes, you can do some De-sensitizing that way, but ultimately it boils down to you being able to project the same confidence on the horse's back as on the ground
In order to do that, you need good basics and body control on your horse, thus able to ride them through stuff, and the horse in turn will learn to trust your judgement, and therefore able to control his instinctive flight reaction, or at least be able to dampen a spook and bolt into a slight start or spook in place
Horses natural survival has depended on them putting distance between themselves and a scary object, then from that safe distance, evaluating that object. We, with training teach that horse that he can trust our judgment instead of falling back on instincts, and no way is that achieved unless the horse learns to see you as a leader he can trust to keep him safe, and only repetitive good rides where you are a rider, not a passenger, will achieve that

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You can transition the same exercises you taught your horse on the ground to being under saddle.

On the ground, I start lightly pressing my hand (or fingernails if the horse is balky) on my horse's girth area and when my horse moves away from the pressure until I release it. I will accept a shifting of weight to the other leg for the first 1-2 tries (it shows me the horse it trying to figure out what I want it to do). Then I expect the hoof on the other side of the horse to move sideways one step two or three times. I like to reward my horse for a job well done and give it a few minutes to think about it so I smooth my hands in a gentle massage over the site where I pressed.

Then I switch to the other side of the horse and repeat the lesson. Eventually we work up to entire circles with the horse pivoting the front legs around.

In the saddle, I press my heel/leg against the same area and my horse moves away from the pressure until I release it. Using the same training we did on the ground...starting with one hoof and working over time until the horse pivots around in a circle.

The area at the edge or just behind the girth is the spot that moves my horse's rear end away from the pressure. I teach it on the ground and use the same spot under saddle.

I also use verbal cues. I think that it helps the horse when I've transitioned into the saddle.

For pivoting around I say "move it!" no matter if it is on the forehand or back end of the horse. The pressure point tells the horse which end needs to move.

When I use both pressure and verbal cue under saddle it seems to me that horses get the connection faster than using only pressure.

My horse Sienna will pivot in place when I look at her shoulder or rear or flick my finger at her. Sometimes I may have to say "Move it!" when she is testing my leadership skills. It helps when I'm standing on a mounting block (or what ever is handy) since she will pivot right up to the place I want her to be and stops.

This article from Clinton Anderson might help: http://www.equisearch.com/article/clinton_anderson_groundwork_071009

:smileywavey: Happy Trails to You and Your Horse!

Kat

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