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Don Jessop

Imagine you own a horse. Now imagine that your horse sucks at something, or anything!

Let's say he doesn't do well with cantering on a left lead and you find yourself avoiding it because it's hard work. Or... let's say your horse is hard to catch and you just deal with it every day because you're not sure what to do about it. Or... let's say your horse is highly distractible and unreliable away from his comfort zones and you bravely try to win his heart and mind but ultimately just stick to his comfort zones. Any one of those problems, and any other problem for that matter, hides secret information about how to breakthrough the problem. Shall I go on? Are you interested in diving in with me?

The thing about all problems, is they aren't just problems. They're also gifts, and often just reframing the word itself puts you in a position to learn. Let's pretend your problem is a gift for a minute or two here. Can you do that with me?

Inside the problem exists the solution. All you have to do is know what to look for. Today I'm going to break it down as simple as possible so you can go out and be more successful right away.

For every single thing a horse does, three things are required.

1. The body must align with the task. Horse won't canter on a left lead but will on the right. Guess what. The alignment is off, time to head to the tire center and get it sorted out. Don't waste any more time trying to force the lead, instead work on getting the alignment necessary to get the lead. You can do that kind of work in the walk and trot.

2. The electric energy must be balanced. Is either too high or too low? When it's too high, you get jumpy, erratic movements. Too low and you get sluggish movements. Don't waste any more time practicing the maneuver. Instead, call the electrician and tighten the wires or turn down the voltage. In the case of the correct lead work, you may notice your horse is too jumpy in the transition leaving no time to get the alignment you need. Slow down, get smoother transitions in the other gaits, then come back up and work again. Or you may notice he's too sluggish off your leg. Take a minute to jump start your horse with a little extra electricity and big reward for giving the energy you want. In the event your horse is physically unwell, you'll need to dive into that solution differently. Perhaps with professional support.

3. Your horse must focus. If your horse is distracted, thinking about his food, or mates, or a scary thing over there, the likelihood of success goes down. Instead of trying to get the lead, get his attention. Don't waste your time with anything else. If the distraction is dangerous in anyway, don't be nice about your safety. Get what you need done to be safe for both of you.

The bottom line is... when the horse is showing you a problem, he or she is also exposing the solution. A little nous, hard work, practice, persistence, and you can win over your horse and get past the problem. But please just remember this. The problem is not something you should avoid. Tackle it delicately, or firmly, or whateverly, but don't avoid it. People who avoid things get nowhere with their horse. If you're reading this article, you've made a conscious decision to not be an avoidaholic. Next level, here we come!

And, oh yeah... don't forget, by focusing on that problem, that one big problem with the intent to get past it every day. Within a week or two you're going to notice a completely different horse. Take for instance. The famous trailer loading incident. True Story... A woman brings a horse to us for trailer loading issues. Don't ask how she got the horse there. It was ugly. She says, "Keep him until he's good but DO NOT ride him or do anything but trailer loading." We say, "Okay, no problem, just trailer loading, no riding, got it!"

Two weeks later she returns. The horse is loading like a champion, absolutely no hesitation and travelling about short trips with no anxiety. A couple of weeks focus on solving a big problem goes a long way. But her response a day after she returned home with her horse caught us all by complete surprise. She called, fuming! Angry about what we'd done. She said, "I told you not to ride this horse!" We responded with the truth that we hadn't ridden the horse. But she wasn't convinced, and she continued to explain how "it's impossible that you didn't because before the horse came it was struggling with basic riding concepts and now was behaving as if there was no struggle at all. Willing, content to respond, and trained!" Ahhhhh... Ironic, right? She didn't realize that by solving the trailer loading issues all the other issues dissipated too. So don't forget. Solving the big problem solves many problems. The key to the next level is in fact the conscious choice to tackle a big problem your horse has on a super simple level from picking up feet, to catching, to loading, to saddling, to mounting, to jumping when he spooks instead of pausing or holding his ground, to gaits and leads, you name it. Define a problem, tackle it elegantly and watch your horse advance within weeks and sometimes mere days.

Please comment below, I love hearing from you each and every time! Don

Don Jessop - Blog Welcome

Hi! I'm Don Jessop

With Mastery Horsemanship

I write to inspire, educate and encourage you on your horse and personal journey.

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