Horsemanship

My motto: “Never stop learning!” The approach I now use for working with horses has changed greatly from the methods I used as a young rider many years ago, training and competing in the Hunter ring. In 2009, shortly after I bought my current horse (a young Arabian gelding), I realized I needed a different way to communicate with him if I was to be an effective trainer -- my traditional approach of correction or escalating pressure was not bringing me the results I had hoped for. I first learned of positive reinforcement training for horses in the book, “How Your Horse Wants You to Ride” (Gincy Bucklin, 2004). Upon further study and careful experimentation with a clicker, I witnessed an enthusiastic attitude change in my horse. Over the years, I have incorporated the use of a marking signal (a click with my tongue) and rewards, such as scratches or small treats, into my teaching of challenging work under saddle and practical groundwork of all kinds.

INTEGRATED HORSEMANSHIP

“Integrated” is what my horsemanship skill set has become -- a combination of body language with mindful, traditional training (gentle pressure and immediate release upon the “smallest try”) and humane, science-based training methods which can be used to enhance performance and teach new skills through shaping. In shaping, I mark each “good try” that is closer to the goal with a well-timed signal, followed by a reward; this positive reinforcement encourages the horse to continue trying and all kinds of behaviours can be refined dramatically.

I have found that awareness of our body language is essential to communicating with our horses, and subtle pressure and release techniques can be greatly enhanced by reward-based methods. For a given problem or task, I always find it a worthwhile endeavour to think of ways I can set up the training so that I can say “Yes!” to the horse early on, and often.

HELPING YOU TO BECOME A CONSISTENT, GENTLE, EFFECTIVE TRAINER

I am pleased to offer private instruction and group workshops about integrated horsemanship. I enjoy teaching other horse owners how to add positive reinforcement to their ” training toolbox" to enhance a horse's performance both under saddle and on the ground, how to gain awareness of their body language to communicate with the horse, and how subtle pressure and release techniques can be enhanced by reward-based methods.

Rates for Lessons (BC Lower Mainland)

(Travel fee may apply, depending on location)

Private “starter” lesson, 2 hours long: $45 flat fee

Private “regular” lesson, 1 hour: $25/lesson

Semi-private lesson, 1 hour: $20/person

Workshops for Small Groups/Clubs

I can conduct a workshop for a small group at your barn or club (maximum 8 participants with horses; auditors welcome). Clinics for more advanced lessons, including techniques for enhancing performance under saddle, are also available. Contact me for details and a group rate quote. I would be happy to plan a clinic to meet your needs, or a particular theme, whether you are looking for a 1/2-day, full-day or two-day clinic.

Send a message to me via email: Stephanie [at] UnconventionalEquestrian.com.

EQUINE SOCCER

Looking for a fantastic way for you and your horse to have fun and build skills at the same time? I have the perfect solution! Equine soccer is an exciting game that can be played with two competing teams or on one’s own. During play, the rider encourages her horse to manipulate an over-sized ball at a walk or trot, using only his shoulder, front legs and nose. This activity challenges the rider to communicate effectively with her horse to control his lateral movement, gait, energy, in an effort to control the ball.

Learning to play equine soccer has some obvious training benefits, and it makes for a refreshing change from your usual routine. But what I think you’ll like best about this sport is that the horses enjoy it as much as we do!

Equine Soccer Workshops

I can teach an introductory workshop at your barn or club. Small groups of 2-6 participants offer the best balance between one-on-one time and the opportunity to learn from watching others. The more cautious horses seem to gain confidence with the ball more quickly when there are other horses also exploring the ball as well. Please allow 3 hours for the workshop. Contact me for a group rate quote.

Send enquiries to me via email: Stephanie [at] UnconventionalEquestrian.com.

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