Central Alberta trainer Brent Trout started off the Trainer's Challenge in fine form, as he worked with a three-year-old gelding named Jose.
Trout's first priority was to establish a relationship with Jose and to encourage the gelding to develop trust. To achieve this, Trout allowed the horse to explore the arena for a few minutes, and all the while he was assessing the gelding's behaviour. "Knowing your horse's attitude is a huge part of training," he said during his session. "This horse is in a really calm and respectful state of mind, but I'll definitely have to keep watching and monitoring his behaviour."
Trout began the training by longing for respect, where he worked Jose on a long lead rope and encouraged him to move away and to gain forward momentum. In working with young horses, Trout related training to children's toys, in that both need to have movement and feeling and stimulus to create an environment for learning. As he worked through the longing exercises, Trout used movement to help reinforce his expectations and his goals for Jose.
The young gelding worked well and maintained a loose lead while longing, so Trout soon began working with the saddle pad. "Whenever I work with horses, I never cross anything over their backs until I've worked both sides," he said. In working with the saddle pad, it became apparent that Jose did have some anxiety, but Trout demonstration how to calmly stay with your horse until he has gained acceptance of the object.
Near the end of the session, Trout saddled the horse, working on both sides with an uncinched saddle before he tightened the cinch. And, after a brief period of bucking when the tightened cinch coincided with the first applause of the session, Trout began longing for respect with Jose under saddle.
"There's a real learning pattern with horses," he said. "First, learning happens by accident, then by coincidence and then by comprehension." As he moves through the next two days, Trout will continue to reinforce the fundamentals from day one, encouraging Jose to comprehend the training that he's learned.
For more coverage on the Trainer's Challenge, visit www.equinelyinclined.com.