The basics of training are to train the horse what you want the horse to do. This is difficult to understand, because we focus on training the horse what we do not want him to do. Sometimes you have to do that, but the reality is if you are training a horse not to do something you have messed up and are correcting a mistake in your horsemanship process.
You also have to draw a line in you training, are you circus training a horse, or following an Classical Process that preserves the natural attributes in the horse.
“ I firmly believe that so long as the horse is not a soulless machine, so long as the horse enjoys mental faculties permitting him to receive impressions in all parts of his being more quickly than we can apply the aids deduced from our calculations, his training by the hard and fast rules of mathematics will ever remain the idle dream of a Utopian.
I am convinced that the main requisites of training are: to observe the horse at liberty, to reflect, and to strive to perfect ones self rather than to blame the horse’s unwillingness or imperfection.
The horse watches his rider and reacts to the movement that he makes, however slight or involuntary; then he reflects, and suddenly surprises the rider by and unexpected defense or by the good execution of the movement which has been demanded of him in vain and which he has though out while meditating in his stables.” Beudant.
Aids: The aids transmit the rider’s will to the horse. They are the hands, the legs, spur, whip, clucks, and displacement of the seat. The last, to which the horse is extremely sensitive, is proscribed except at extreme speed. It is very difficult to displace the seat accurately and correctly especially with movements quickly repeated such as changes of the leg at the gallop with the same number of strides between changes. These displacements fret a horse more or less and are very awkward.”
If you watch a green horse that erupts into a bucking fit, you will see it usually is a displacement of the seat that sets the horse off. It is true that horses get used to displacements of the seat and will learn to work off the seat, the use of the seat as an aid irritates the horse.
The classical training of a campaign horse is to associate simple aids with natural movements. The simpler we define these aids for ourselves, the better chance we stand of creating a process for the horse to understand out aids.
Lets define the aids as a direct rein to control the hindquarters of the horse, an indirect rein to control the fore quarters of the horse, the leg to start movement, a half halt to control collection and stop/back.
When you define simple aids, you can build the foundation for those simple aids in your halter training and carry them to the upper levels. If you cannot get the horse to understand simple aids, there is little chance the horse will understand complex aids.
Most of the issues with modern horsemanship was been the elimination of the classical process and the replacement of that process with operant conditioning or circus training, which is a reward/punishment based system. In most riding the hands and the legs is a punishment to the horse and the only other aid available to the horse is the seat, which irritates the horse when used as an aid.
Since modern horsemanship has not field tested the differences between operant conditioning and classical conditioning, they have no understanding of the differences between the two basic training techniques and how they hold up under stress.
The elimination of outdoor riding as a fundamental part of the training process as removed the most natural application of classical conditioned responses and changed to focus of horsemanship from riding to circus training.
The process for training horses from the natural horse to the upper levels, is so broke today, we cannot even produce quality horsemen to study the simples of issues within the classical process. This is a huge handicap for a professional horseman, as most of the discussions in horsemanship are not about what you have studied, but that it cannot exist because we have not studied it.
When you put the classical process back to together you find that operant conditioning falls apart in the campaign stage of outdoor riding where classical conditioned responses hold up under the stresses of campaign riding.
The other issue is that modern horsemanship is not set up so a professional horseman can halter train 50 colts a year refining the process at the bottom.We have ignored the bottom of horsemanship with the false assumption we can refine the training at the top. That method only works with exceptional horses, and ignores the needs of the bulk of the horses. Horsemanship, like most arts has to be refined from the bottom up, not the top down.
In most horsemanship’s, training is the process. In this structure training is only a part of the process. As you fit the process together from the natural horse to the upper levels, the training process becomes simpler and clearer.