Taking Charge? Taking Control?

Taking charge is not the same thing as taking control although the two are often confused. Since horse training is a good mirror through which to reflect on our human condition, let’s talk about taking charge in equine training. To take charge means to assume responsibility for your horse. It requires that, as a leader, you have the intention of understanding his needs and fears and striving with all your might to see the world through his eyes, to find [...]

February 3rd, 2017|Horse Training, Horsemanship|

New Year’s Equine Resolutions

With the New Year come resolutions to fix or address some issues. It’s also a good time to try to make some new commitments to our equine partners. Don’t berate yourself about what you haven’t done. The idea about resolutions is not to immediately “fix” something but, instead, to commit to improving, to making progress. In the words of the famous American poet and humorist, Ogden Nash: What lordly aspirations dawn The while I draw my trousers on! Oh beamish [...]

January 10th, 2017|Horsemanship, Well Being|

Virtual Reality with Horses: For Liberty to Appear, Lead Ropes Must Disappear

  We are used to putting on our horse’s halter – I only use rope halters, by the way—and clipping our lead rope to it and then walking off with our horse. It’s second nature. It should be because it’s really the only practical way to move our horses at will. The key word, however, is practical. Because the lead rope is not a method; it’s a device. In other words, it’s a way of exerting energy or pressure physically [...]

October 14th, 2016|Horsemanship, Well Being|

When You Are Planning for Disaster, Where’s Your Horse?

I think if there is one thing that Hurricane Mathew reminded us of this week is that Nature can bring devastation with an unimaginable savagery and suddenness.  Sooner or later an emergency may come along and play havoc with our lives. But it is not just our lives at risk, it is also the lives of our animals. And our animals are depending upon us to have an emergency plan in place. First, figure out how big a vehicle you [...]

October 14th, 2016|Horsemanship|

Learning When It’s Not Work

I talk in my book, Lead With Your Heart—Lessons from a Life with Horses, that training horses—like any education or learning process—should be fun. But what’s true for training horses is true for any teaching situation: the teacher or trainer is responsible for making the learning experience fun. It is not an option. It’s a duty. When it comes to horses, if a trainer gets out in the arena or round pen and begins to see her training session degenerating [...]

September 23rd, 2016|Horse Training, Horsemanship|

Is My Horse Dead or Is He Asleep?

Several years ago one of the boarders at my ranch came over to the house and started pounding on the door—not something I encourage, believe me. I was all ready to get huffy with her but when I opened the door, she was sobbing uncontrollably and pointing out to one of the pastures: “You have to help me! My horse is dead out there in the pasture!” I grabbed my hat and hustled out to the pasture. Her horse was [...]

September 12th, 2016|Horsemanship|

The Twitch Is Out!

Let’s get the subject of the horse twitch cleared up. There is nothing analgesic (pain-relieving) about a twitch squeezing the lips, one of the most sensitive parts of a horse’s anatomy. I know. There are some of you out there---horse handlers, trainers, and even veterinarians—who are going to tell me what an essential piece of equipment the horse twitch is. That they use it and the horse calms down. And some of you will tell me that there are even [...]

September 2nd, 2016|Horse Training, Horsemanship|

Patience: Give Yourself a Year

The key to training horses is patience. Not because horses are so slow but because human beings are so fast. As humans, we are so inherently predatory by nature that we want the horse to learn, to respond now–or even sooner! That means that our intention is not focused on the horse’s mindset or how it relates to the learning process but, instead, we are looking ahead for the result. When we look for results, we lose our focus, our [...]

April 23rd, 2015|Horse Training, Horsemanship|

Your New Mantra: Pause, Pet, Breathe, and Praise

I recently got this heartfelt email from a couple that found themselves with a very troubled mare suffering with post-traumatic stress syndrome: Dear Allan: …. Last April we purchased a six-year-old mare…We had her evaluated by a respected professional horse clinician. He discovered that, when asked to canter (she was trained for dressage), the horse begins to accelerate rapidly,  until she eventually lost all control, Secondly, she seemed to go into an unusual form of panic that the trainer described [...]

February 23rd, 2014|Horsemanship|

Using the Right Amount of Energy for Every Horse

Today we look at a question from a reader: Hi! I just want to say how incredible it has been reading this book. I have had only trail riding experiences with horses and didn’t understand much about horses until I read this book. I have always had a love for horses but never knew the amazing qualities and minds they possess. Incredible. I also had never been able to have a horse to call mine until my mom rescued 4 [...]

March 29th, 2013|Horsemanship|

New Riding Environment? Help With Your Horse’s Anxiety

I recently had an interesting question from a reader that related to some of the principles I talk about in Zen Mind, Zen Horse. I thought it would be helpful for everyone to review this real life example: Dear Dr. Hamilton, (excerpted) I have an eleven year-old mare, born and raised in Montana.  Although Barbie was broke, she spent the first seven years “out on pasture,” the majority of time in a herd of twenty or so horses.  She has [...]

January 13th, 2013|Horse Training, Horsemanship|

Living in the Moment

The past is a guidepost, not a hitching post. ~L. Thomas Holdcroft Horses don’t delude themselves about time. They understand that there was a past. If it was bad, they usually forgive it. If it was good, well, no reason to dwell on that too long either. As to the future, they don’t place too much stock in that either. Horses have a way of trying to size up the situation by confining themselves to the present. When they go [...]

October 23rd, 2011|Horsemanship, Spirituality|