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QUESTION:

I've been a horseman all my life, broke horses and trained for a living and rodeoed. I have been married to a wonderful wife for three years.

My question is this: We have an eight-year-old Arab that we bought together. This the first horse that she has ever owned or been next to in her life.

She has really gotten into this. She buys books from A to Z, reads them from cover to cover, and comes up with things that I never heard of.

But I only know what has been handed down to me. Should I keep some of the old ways or go with the new ways of training a horse?

I've tried some of the new ways, but things didn't seem right to me.

I would like to hear your comments.

- B. O.
ANSWER:

Welcome to the Information Age, partner!

In every area of life, the gathering and sharing of information gains speed every day. The same even holds true in horsemanship.

When I was growing up, breaking a horse's spirit was the generally accepted way of training. To make a horse submissive, you tied up one of the hind legs or immobilized it in some other way and subjected it to various frightening situations until it lost its will to resist.

Then came the Information Age and folks began to realize that it was possible to train a horse by communicating with it in a language the horse understood. Trainers discovered that they didn't need to risk a broken neck in the process of training a horse. A classic example is a friend of mine who recently took a green part-mustang and had it gentled and working under saddle in a few days with no major conflicts.

Sure, it's hard to learn new ways of doing things, but often worth the effort. I'd suggest that you check out both John Lyons and Steve Harris for some new methods that really work. (But be careful about "horse whispering".)

Talk with your bride about the methods she's reading about. If they look worthwhile, try them. If you have serious reservations about something, I'd be glad to give an outside opinion. All-in-all, the more gentle techniques tend to have the upper hand. And I'm sure your spouse would much rather ride into the sunset with you -- instead of helping you doctor a broken leg!

Happy Riding!

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