Katy’s horse training philosophy is straight forward, get the horse balanced and educated mentally as well as physically. Horse’s are prey animals, people are predators, nature didn’t intend for us to work together. Therefore, there is a natural disconnect between people and horses. Katy works to bridge the gap, teaching people to work with horses in a productive, smooth, and non-threatening/dominating way. She teaches horses how to think and problem solve under pressure both on the ground and under saddle. The training process is based on horse training principles that are effective with every horse, every breed and every age. Katy’s foundation program starts on the ground and progresses to ridden work as the horse becomes more prepared. Horse training is about the horse, therefore, the horse determines how long the process takes. Some horses catch on quickly while others take a lot more time and consistency to get it right. Katy’s program is not a once size fits all but rather a program where each horse gets a customized tTraining services offered include:
Groundwork starts in a round pen, teaching the horse to be directed, redirected, and then “hook on” to the person/trainer. The round pen is typically the safest place to start for the horse and the handler because it limits the restraint on the horse. In the round pen the horse learns to be directed in a relaxed and responsive manner. This is very similar to horses’ natural behavior when a new stallion takes over a heard. Its not about chasing the horse or wearing the horse out, its about starting the conversation of who is the leader. The leader isn’t a boss, its someone the horse can look to for direction and safety.
Groundwork online exercises start to introduce physical pressure to the horse. The same types of exercises are applied where you direct and redirect the horse. The goal is to get the horse to allow you to move him around in a responsive and relaxed way. The biggest benefit of working a horse this way on the ground is the mental/emotional gains. A horse learns to think, problem solve, yield to pressure and learns to think and respond under stress rather than reverting to their instincts of fight or flight. The horse will also practice being tied up after each training session, allowing them to relax and process that day’s session. During the process, horses will also learn to ground tie. This is also the place where you can teach a horse to hobble and even lay down.
Undersaddle work will begin when the horses groundwork is sufficient. The basics under saddle will teach the horse to do several basics. A horse will learn to walk, trot and canter relaxed on a loose rein. The horse will understand how to yield his hindquarters and forequarters. The horse will learn to stop and back up. The horse will also learn to sidepass and yield laterally off leg aids. During these exercises, the horse learns to be soft and responsive to aids (rein, seat and leg). After the foundation work is complete, the horse is then ready to go to the next step of his training, ie whatever the horses “job” will be. Rushing this process will lead to problems down the road.
Obstacles are introduced during the training process. Usually obstacles are introduced once the groundwork is going well. Horses are introduced to a variety of types of obstacles where they learn to walk over, cross over, jump over, walk under, etc. different types of obstacles both in the arena and around the ranch. This is also where the horses will learn how to load and unload out of a horse trailer. Most horses that work through the obstacles on the ground, will then be able to do them under saddle with very little trouble if any at all. Most of the struggles with obstacles come from the horse’ lack of understanding and confidence of what they are being asked to do.
Last step of the process, is riding a horse outside the arena, on the trails and in the open space of the ranch. By this point the horse has a good foundation and is ready to handle what comes his way from cattle, to obstacles, to unexpected events such as deer jumping out, etc. A horse should be well rounded, no matter what his job is going to be.
Working with problem horses, ie ones that buck, rear, bolt, fearful, disrespectful, spooky, etc. are worked with in the same order as an unstarted horse. Usually by going back to the beginning, you find the holes in the horses’ foundation. Problem solving typically takes a little longer than working with an unstarted horse because you have to undo poor habits and install new, productive habits. Most horses can be successfully rehabilitated and go on the be productive citizens.