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November 8, 2011

Michaela Walker Connecting the Dots

Rick Lamb Show: Connecting the Dots with Michaella Walker

July 23rd radio show.   It's free, and lots of good info in those radio shows.

In this segment Michaella Walker discusses "Connecting the Dots."    She explains that in order to have a complete horse there are foundation areas (dots) that should be achieved (connected) in a certain order to build trust and understanding with your horse.  The key areas are:

1. Touch for trust.  We see this method used by several clinicians (Parelli comes to mind) (also Frank Bell), handling the horse all over, weeding out any spots that the horse tells you no with desensitization.  Michaella takes it just a step further than trust by seeking out a pleasure response with the horse, releasing muscle memory, and creating a horse human bond called trust.
2. The Four Pillars.  The horse's hooves are their life center, literally.  If you have achieved step one, the four pillars should follow.  Left front, right front, left rear, right rear.  The handler should be able to handle all four legs without resistance, and be able to gently place the hoof down in a cocked position of relaxation without the horse immediately placing the hoof flat down.  A horse with resistance in any of the four pillars tells you that you have not spent enough time developing trust.
3. Feel & Vocabulary: There is no place for "human time" in the horse training equation.  A horse may learn something in three repetitions, while another horse may need a thousand repetitions.  This is the area where most self-training breaks down.  We have an agenda.  Our horse has no agenda other than food, water, sleep, and the wind in his face.  We have to develop a feel of recognition as to the working parts of the horse.  Be able to recognize a shifting of weight one foot at a time. We learn to recognize the behavior of  the horse having an "aha!" moment by a softening of the eye, a lowering of the head, licking and chewing.  The horse has let go of fear, and communication channels are open.   The horse has got the lesson.
#4. Nothing Lost in Translation: If you do ground work as if you were riding the horse, you've already ridden the horse.  Move the feet one foot at a time. By using groundwork as a preliminary you imitate the rein and leg.  The horse begins on the ground, masters that, then moves onto the same lesson under saddle.
#5. Muscle Memory:  By repetition of these training strategies the horse begins to develop muscle mass through balanced movement.  In a frightening situation muscle memory can save the day as the horse works through fear by muscle memory.  A way to illustrate this would be teaching a horse the one rein stop.  After enough repetitions of this exercise it becomes an automatic response that would serve you well when a horse's flight instinct has kicked in.
#6.  The Collection Connection:  Teaching the horse and rider to move in balanced harmony.

Good stuff! ~ E.G.

1 comment:

  1. Jacke, Very good points from her radio program! Thanks for sharing them.