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This is a continuation of a series of Articles. 

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
Part Nine
Part Ten
Part Eleven
Part Twelve

Horse Training - Communication 101
Part  Eight
By Beverly Whittington

Part of the bond that forms with horses in turn out situations comes from mutual grooming. You will see them paired up two by two, giving each other a good scratch. Once again this is part of the horses natural tendency, to offer mutual grooming to other horses, and often to people that they have become comfortable with. You do not want to allow a horse to even THINK that you want to be part of a mutual grooming! What is a good scratch to a horse can cause damage or pain to you! 

However there is much to be said for the horse getting the idea that you are a pleasure to be around. Every opportunity that presents itself, give your horse a good stroking or scratch. As has already been discussed earlier, horses seldom enjoy patting, but most will succumb to a gentle stroke or a scratch on the itchy spots! Rub everywhere, with a gentle but firm motion. When you find a spot that the horse objects to, back off initially then go back to it in a few minutes. Just keep on working at it until the horse will accept you rubbing him all over. 

As the horse is beginning to believe that you are safe and a pleasure to be around, you are building the foundation for respect. As the horse learns to enjoy or accept your hands rubbing him all over, begin to add other items. Use anything that will not harm or cause discomfort to the horse. Rub him with your hat, a lead rope, a piece of cloth, and a plastic bag. Use your imagination. You are building trust. To the horse, the message is clear, you may be a little kooky in what you choose to use in grooming, but you will cause no harm and the over all experience is a pleasant one. 

Begin to incorporate yields in the grooming process. You have already taught the horse to lower his head on command, so ask him to drop it to facilitate your rubbing his head all over. You can teach him to give to pressure on his shoulder, hip, barrel, muzzle, and legs...every part of his body. The process is the same as the yield at the poll, except you are pushing instead of pulling. 

Start by just beginning to rub the horse, as usual at this point. Then stop rubbing and apply pressure with your second knuckle of your finger on the horse's shoulder, asking him to step away from the pressure. The instant he steps away, immediately remove the pressure and resume the rubbing. It is important that you do not stop pressing until the horse moves. Once again use the Ask, Tell, Demand, start with a firm pressure, increasing until the horse moves, not letting up until he does. AS SOON as he does, praise him and resume the rubbing. Move to the horses barrel and repeat. Be sure to do this on each side of your horse. If you make this a routine, you will soon have a horse that has learned to yield any part of his body. 

Little by little ask for more than a slight movement away. Instead of an inch of movement, begin to ask for a full step, then two. Do not forget the positive reinforcement; let them know they got it right with a vocal praise. Horses learn through repetition, and it must become a part of your daily routine in order for the horse to learn it 100%. Teaching your horse to give to pressure all over his body reinforces your role as the dominant, for as horses interact with each other they use physical pressure to indicate dominance. 

These steps lead to establishing control and hierarchy, which you can reinforce with repetition by flexing your horse while on the ground. The basic requirements are that you are able to cause you horse to: 

Drop his head towards the ground 
Flex laterally at the Poll 
Shoulder yield and lateral flex 
Hip yield and flex 
The best way to make repetition work to your advantage includes breaking aids into steps. It is important that each aid can be clearly recognizable as an informational unit. This is only possible, if it is isolated by a release, a pause, before and after. Just like punctuation in the written word, the information has to be presented in boundaries that are immediately obvious. 

You would have difficulty reading sentences without punctuation you never know where the thought starts and stops which allows you to process each segment so it is with your horse you cannot expect him to decipher your commands any easier than it has been for you to read this section without punctuation to do so is expecting him to make the leap from horse to mind reader. 

Ok So how many times did you have to read that for it to make sense? The horse who is stimulated with a constant stream of aids is in the same situation. He has no way to figure out where one ends and one begins. He does not have the ability to "Re-Read" the aid as you did the above. It is common for the horse to either give up trying, or ignore the handler in his frustration. You can relate to this if you apply the above example. How far would you have read this article to glean any insights in horse training, if there had been no punctuation through out the article? 

You would have difficulty reading sentences without punctuation you never know where the thought starts and stops which allows you to process each segment so it is with your horse you cannot expect him to decipher your commands any easier than it has been for you to read this section without punctuation to do so is expecting him to make the leap from horse to mind reader.

Is it easier to read because I SHOUTED it, by enlarging the font? Of course not. Once again apply this to your horse. When you are using the Ask, Tell, Demand sequence, you have to be give the horse time to respond and be using an aid that he can understand what it is that you are requesting from him. It does no good to DEMAND if he has no clue what it is you are after.

TO BE CONTINUED….

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