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Horses And Electricity: The Training Challenge

By Jeffrey Rolo

Many horse lovers observe "horse whisperers" in action and marvel at how fluidly the professional horsemen work with their equine partners. Somehow the barrier between horse and human disappears, and the two minds meld into one as they perform an invisible dance, often without the use of any tools or props. And these observers sometimes sigh wistfully, wishing that they too possessed these unique and borderline supernatural skills.

Well, horse owners can cease the internal reflections, and instead easily become that which they envy: natural horsemen. But before I share the big secret that all professional horsemen share, let me quickly address the difficulty factor, and in doing so we'll see what electricians have in common with horse trainers.

Unskilled people that have no knowledge of electricity or how to wire a house should stay far away from any home modifications that tap into the electrical system. The reason why is rather obvious: perform the work wrong and you can be severely hurt, if not killed outright. Electricity is a powerful force that is easy enough to bend to your will if you know the right techniques, but it's foolhardy not to respect its power.

The same holds true for horses. Like electricity, these majestic animals can hurt you if you attempt to manipulate them without the proper respect or knowledge. That's not to suggest horse training is nearly as dangerous as electrical work for the newcomer, so don't get nervous… just bear with the analogy a bit longer.

Ask an electrician if their job is difficult and they are likely to tell you no: as long as you know how to work with electrical wiring, it's actually rather safe and very predictable.

If you wanted to pick up this skill, you wouldn't learn how to perform electrical work by grabbing a pair of pliers and clipping away at random wires until you get the hang of things, would you? Not unless you had a death wish. Instead you would learn about how electricity works. How it's safe to handle. And ideally, you would observe another professional work with electricity before doing hands-on work of your own.

But once you learned how electricity works, chances are you could then branch off and perform various types of electrical projects. Once you learn the fundamentals, you quickly learn that the fundamentals rarely change despite the complexity of a project.

Horse training is the same. Many horse trainers will likely acknowledge that working with horses isn't all that difficult at all, as long as you first learn how they work. How to safely handle them. And most importantly of all, respect their power. The disadvantage to working with horses over electricity is that horses are quite a bit more unpredictable (at least at first). The advantage is that they are very forgiving when it comes to errors, whereas electricity can put you down with one single error.

Horse training also comes down to basic fundamentals. It doesn't matter if you're training a colt to lead on a lead line, or if you're training a stallion to ride under saddle. It doesn't matter if you're training a Thoroughbred to jump, or if you're training a Tennessee Walker to gait. While each horse breed or equine activity may require some custom techniques to be applied during the training process, once you know the fundamentals of working with a horse, all will have certain similarities. Like the electrician, you learn that despite the complexity of your project, as long as you hold onto the fundamentals you'll likely experience few difficulties.

So is horse training difficult? To the outsider, sure. Until you invest the time into learning about horses and picking up some horse training fundamentals, natural horsemanship can appear to require a deep set of skills honed only after decades of work. But although decades of experience certainly will apply further polish to an already gleaming diamond, horsemanship doesn't require decades to learn. Or years, for that matter. One can become quite proficient with horses in a matter of months, or even weeks depending on the individual and the frequentness of the training sessions.

And the best part of all? You don't need to learn everything under the sun before owning or working with your own horse. You can, and should, expand your knowledge right alongside your equine partner. Horse training should be a mutual learning experience, not a solitary one.

Was knowledge the big secret I alluded to at the start of this article? Nope. Now don't get me wrong, knowledge is important. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is crucial. It ranks right up there amongst the critical qualities a horse owner or horse trainer should possess. But in my opinion, it's not THE big secret to natural horsemanship.

So what is the big secret? Check out the article Horse Communication: The Big Secret to find out.

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