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Debbie Loucks with the family's horse, Bunny, which is short for "Steel Buns."   James Oliver
Debbie Loucks with the family's horse, Bunny, which is short for "Steel Buns." James Oliver

by Debbie Roberts Loucks

Millions resolve to change habits every January. Few succeed.

Even more challenging, can a single person create massive change in an entire system? Has it happened before? Sure has!

Consider that the power of incremental change, overtime, amounts to massive transformation.

Confucius said, “To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.”

Incremental change = Transformation, also applies to horses.

Monty Roberts Training Tip

Make it easy for the horse to succeed. — Monty Roberts

By meeting the needs of the horse and working calmly in the absence of violence, they will learn to trust their handlers and overcome fear and misunderstanding. If the horse trusts you, its ability to trust its environment greatly improves.

Does your horse have a habit you wish to re-train? Never underestimate the power of incremental learning.

We can take a simple, but dangerous, issue like standing still to mount, which is a ground manner that also affects riding. The first step with your horse is to establish good habits of standing still when asked and leading when asked. Allow your horse to make the mistake of moving, about three steps, before you ask your horse to stand still again. Do this as often as you lead your horse. This helps with their understanding of what the mistake was. If you don’t allow the mistake, you can’t help them correct it.

The next step is to lead your horse alongside a mounting block (or any safe, elevated object) and ask it to stand still, for just a minute at first. Then walk a circle around the block and ask him to stand still alongside again. If he moves his feet without being asked, allow those three steps and then ask him to back up the three steps to the mounting position again. Praise him with a good rub so that becomes the comfortable spot.

Your schooling should be with low-adrenaline. If you feel you have put too much pressure on a horse to accept your training sessions, stop and reassess your goals. Every time you go to mount your horse, follow this pattern. This ritual creates an enhanced learning curve for the horse. Non-violent communication and a mindful approach are essential to build trust and significantly improve all aspects of relationships, with horses and with people.

Many people are discovering what horses have to teach us about lowering our adrenaline to be better communicators. Incremental learning allows us to take the time we need to change, and it motivates us to achieve goals to improve our life and our relationship with horses.

In 2018, I founded "The Movement," a symposium held at Flag Is Up Farms in Solvang, our family farm, with the vision to unite outstanding speakers and live horse demonstrations. Founded on the belief that non-violent forms of communication are essential to building trust and achieving outstanding results, our mission is to help people discover the unique power of horses across all aspects of life.

On April 29-30,2019, we will again host eight outstanding presenters from cross-disciplines who are each amazing in their own industries, and have a vision of a better world, inspired by horses. This annual event, that caters to novice riders, non-riders, as well as the advanced students alike, teaches problem-solving by using violence-free training methods with a range of young and remedial horse demonstrations, lectures, and discussions on horsemanship.

A movement starts with a clear vision of a world different than the one we live in today. And action, though it may be incremental, advances that vision to become a movement.

Debbie Roberts Loucks
Debbie Roberts Loucks

Debbie Roberts Loucks grew up on Flag Is Up Farms in Solvang. She is the daughter of Monty and Pat Roberts. You can follow her on her popular podcast Horsemanship Radio.

This article originally appeared on The Santa Inez Valley News and is published here with permission.

Find more interesting articles in our section on Health & Education.

You can find more about the upcoming Monty Roberts event in April The Movement Symposium featuring Monty Roberts in our Calendar of Events. Check it out!

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