Alternative Methods in Horsemanship™ - Tina's Tips
TINA’S TIPS for Horse Handling Using TTEAM Methods and common sense:
Tip #2 The “WAIT” Moment Continued: More thoughts on the “Wait” Moment while teaching your horse.
How long does one wait for a horse to respond to the cue? To me, it is not about counting seconds or minutes, it is about me doing a great job of observing the subtle, flowing body language of the horse. What I observe will tell me what steps are needed next to get the task done properly, calmly and with purpose. You’ve probably already done this while in conversation with other humans, waiting for subtle things like an exhalation, a stammer or whether you can make eye contact, so doing this with your horse isn’t that far out of reach.
I watch the eyes, the area around the eyes, the movement of the eyelids, the changes of lips, the nostrils, the jaws, the ears and the breathing patterns…all these carry the flow of processing of the brain that is figuring out “what did Tina just cue, what does it mean, how do I do it, and why must I do it?”. I get the sense that I’m observing his thought process… does he understand what the cue means, exactly how is he supposed to execute the task, and really, must he really respond or shall he just ignore Tina? Is he worried or fearful about making the wrong choice (yes, horses are absolutely capable of reason!)?
All kinds of elements are translated in a series of micro signals, and all matter…so learn to observe and you’ll begin to see when the timing is right for either repeating the cue once more, or reassuring the horse that he is allowed to figure it out.
And, if you decide to repeat the cue,up the clarity and magnitude of the cue, meaning “yup, Tina means you are to Do It, and Do It Now” Be sure that those increasingly clear cues are done in small degrees. In otherwords, I don’t go from a simple #1 level of cue to a giant #10 demand. Gradual changes produce better results because they facilitate thinking, vs. reacting, both now and for future requests.
There is another side of the same coin that I believe in, the “Wait Moment” for the horse, and I start this from the ground!
I prefer to teach a horse that it is his/her job to wait for the precise cue. This teaches a horse self control, and not to anticipate. For example from halt to walk, if I’m the horse, I must wait for the clear cue for the transition, rather than just rambling forward as I walk along and eventually get my footfalls organized into a walk, not really knowing where my body and feet are. Neither the horse or handler will be in balance, and I find the level of focus for both of us is diminished.That’s why it’s so important to be clear and precise: Halt, Wait, then Cue to Walk, Walk on. Precision matters to me, because it is the foundation for what I want when the element of riding is added to the conversation.