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Accept the Calm

I was working with a client this week and she wanted to learn to long-line her horse, Lula. I have done this with Lula before and she was really good. She didn’t need any major preparation back then as she had done quite a bit before while she was being retrained from a racehorse. This week, we got out into the field and as soon as we popped on the first line, Lula was not okay. Every time the rope touched her side, she tensed up.

This is the moment in horse training where you have two choices. You push through and accept the Chaos. Or you check all the steps and accept the Calm. What do I mean by this?

If you accept the Chaos, it’s easy to say - she should know better, she knows how to long-line so it will be fine, she’s done this loads of times before so I don’t know what her problem is.

Or in accepting the Calm, you can ask why is she reacting? How can we help her? What bit of information is missing from the conversation that would make her feel better about this situation?

Accepting the Calm means being thorough, taking the time to check the horse is happy and relaxed.

In accepting the Calm for Lula, we put the lines on her one side at a time. We pulled the line through the roller rings and waited until she wasn’t eye-balling them moving about at her side. We let her walk around with one line against her side and around her hind end, checking both sides were okay. This took about 30 minutes in total, but, it’s always the horse who sets the time line so the clock is not on when you are training.

Finally we were able to put both lines on and I worked Lula for a little while before her owner took over. At any point she had told us she was not okay, we would have gone back through the steps from the start and checked them again.

I have found this is the best way to build consistency and trust in horses. Without that, you accept the Chaos.

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