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Karen C Vanderlaan

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Member Since: May, 2006

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   Recent articles by
Karen C Vanderlaan

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5 Keys to whispering so your horse will listen
By Karen C Vanderlaan   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Friday, July 28, 2006
Posted: Friday, July 28, 2006

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My personal approach to horse whispering

#1. Learn to listen to your horse before expecting him to blindly listen to you. Key in to his expressions and movements. Become aware of the look in his eyes, and where his ears are pointed. Watch his tail, and know where his feet are.
A horse is an animal that, in nature, is prey for other animals. The “herd” is essential for survival. Knowing and remembering these facts will help you to understand a horses’ way of thinking and behaving. It will help you to make reasonable requests of him as well.
My four-year-old granddaughter who is my shadow in the arena and barn constantly asks me, “What is he saying?” Now she often tells me what the horses are saying.

#2. Realize that equipment is NOT the key to communicating with your horse. There is no special halter or rope that will replace time spent teaching and training. The less equipment you need the better. Your horse doesn’t know or care about the differences between English leather, and American, nylon or cotton etc. Use what works for you and your horse.
As a child, I trained my first horse with a bridle and halter using ropes I braided from hay strings. I taught him to free lunge without a round pen and rode without a saddle most of the time.

#3. Keep the mentality that you are training your horse, not breaking him. There is a big difference. It takes longer to train than to break, but the end result is a confident horse in a partnership with a human.
There is no magic that is achieved in the standard “thirty-day” breaking period. Being able to mount a horse within a short period of time is not magic. Establishing a trust relationship and building upon it is where the magic lies.
Colts I have raised or that have been raised and handled well are easily ridden within a few days of starting their riding training. Others who have barely been touched or who have been poorly treated have taken a full thirty days before even attempting to mount up.

#4. Be firm, consistent and fair. Always. Establish yourself as the “herd boss” and stay in charge. Most of a horses’ time is spent doing as he pleases, for the time that you are working with your horse, he needs to behave and do as you request. This may induce visions of a person using force in some way but if a horse is handled regularly from a young age, those boundaries are established easily. If not, firm reminders may come more often at first but the mutual respect will come. Angry force used in an instant can set back hours of training.
Many of the horses that end up in the “killer pens” are there because they were allowed to become so spoiled that they were unmanageable and dangerous for their owner. A spoiled horse is like a spoiled child only several hundred pounds heavier! And for your horses sake, love him enough to make him into a well mannered horse and even if you are not around, he will be likely to have a home for all of his life.

#5. Have a number of techniques available and keep adding to your repertoire. I call it my “tool box”. Horses are as individual as humans. What works for one horse may not work as well on the next. A technique used by a trainer that you thought a little silly may suddenly come to mind when a horses’ behavior may have you stumped. When riding my colt on a day when things were going especially well this poem came to me:


I held you as you took your first breath
And dried your newborn wetness
As you lay on the golden straw
Now you carry me with strength and grace
– Obedient and strong

I think as I swell with pride
“I raised and trained you myself.”
My second thought –“No”
“I did not in any way train you myself.”

A host of others are here – a package deal
Equine teachers: Flicka, Dusty, Banjo
Books read and re-read
Instructors and teachers, too many to name.

Web Site: Show and Tell

Reader Reviews for "5 Keys to whispering so your horse will listen"

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Reviewed by MaryGrace Patterson 6/17/2007
An informative write . My best friend owns a horse . I know she would enjoy this article..........M
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 3/21/2007
enjoyed the read.

i have long felt that gentle awareness of those with whom we are dealing coupled with quiet and patience is far more effective whether dealing with horse, dog, errant skunk, spider caught on sticky paper, kid, or any other living critter.

My horses respond far more readily to gentle talk and patience than to jerks and yelling.

Farrier chuckled as husband attempted to get resistant shadow under control ... husband came and got me, I went out and eyed the big guy for a moment, i swear he had the same naughty look i have seen on the faces of my own kids and those I teach.

"shadow, mama made biscuits this morning, be a good boy and i'll bring you some." husband looked dismayed as i turned and returned to the house.

both men eyed me as tho I were daft.

Shadow AND Cimmaron stood quietly and when farrier was finished I reappeared with a pan.

Both men eyed me with new understanding as the boys munched their biskies.
Reviewed by Jennifer Butler 2/18/2007
Very interesting. Horses threw me quite a few times when I was young. And although our cat was born in our house, and our family has always kept pets, I have learned that we cannot make them happy, and they are often in danger because of our inability to communicate with them. I have decided that it is best to keep a bird feeder with water and a bird house rather than to have pets. Then we are assured that we do not interfere or enter fear in their lives.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Taylor (Reader) 7/28/2006
Beautiful poem.

Seems that the article is good advice with people too.

Enjoyed the article.


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Karen C Vanderlaan

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