Horse Training...It's ALL THE TIME

For todays post, I was going to just cover horse interactions and I've hunted up some great examples! For my first group, I give you OP, Vinny and Jagger! That's them up above. OP is the "peacock"...the one already with "radar lock" on Mike and the camera. Everything about his body posture shows that he's on high alert to something in his environment that looks different and odd. And he's right! Mike standing on he fence rail with the camera isn't what he usually sees when he comes out to this pen. OP is a four year old. The other two handsome geldings (with radar lock on OP) are (3 year old) chestnut Vinny and (2 year old bay) Jagger. Just for future reference, at this point all three have had all training done by Mike, with OP having the most! OP was a Regional Top Five in Sport Horse In Hand this year and is already started under saddle. Vinny's just beginning under saddle work (there are other blog posts showing different stages of his training) and Jag is the "baby" of the bunch and OP's half brother. There...cast of characters set!

I really did intend this post to be all about observing horse interactions, but I found that before I could get on with observing (what we fondly call) "boy bashing", these photos led me straight to another topic, and one of my favorites! So, as usual, I'm just going to "roll with it"!

As a horse handler, you are ALWAYS cast in the role of trainer. ALWAYS! Every single time you touch that horse? No! Every single time you enter 'his area" ARE A TRAINER. For better or worse. EVERY SINGLE TIME! This is something I don't even consciously think about, but it's what I do.When Mike headed out to the pen with his camera to get these shots, this session was supposed to be all about getting images of these geldings interacting. But before that could happen, I had to get them all out there in the pen. Because some of the best moments happen when they first "greet" each other, Mike had to be already "on the camera" which meant someone else had to bring out "the merry band" of players. On this day, that was me.

"Lead out for play time" IS TRAINING TIME! Especially with 3 youngsters coming out of box stalls knowing that it's...."Woooo Hooo! "TURN OUT TIME"!!!!

When you look at this first photo (below) you can see that without thinking twice about it, I went out of my way to find my favorite "glove stick".

Yep...just to be sure you can see it, I've put the big arrow with "Stick" on it! And while "the stick" is very useful for teaching personal space while leading, in this particular instance, it's not just for the horse I'm handling. It's for the other 2 horses already loose in the pen! OP was the last horse out, which is always tricky.

In this moment, I'm not training 1 horse, I'm training 3!!!! I'm training OP to "focus on handler while other fools are playing" AND training the other 2 fools as well. They are not allowed near a horse that I'm handling. You can obviously see that Vin and Jag already know this, by their conspicuous absence from the gate area, but I assure you they were waiting for OP! There was nobody else there to "shoo them" away from OP. But because I am very consistent about having "the stick" with me, when I do a turn out (or bring in) with a group of horses, Vin and Jag KNEW it would be "very bad" to crowd me. If yo