I´ve been busy with the addition to my family. On the 25th of March I got a wonderful little son. Additionally, I’ve been training 4 lovely Frederiksborg-horses during the last couple of months.

It has been a bit of a challenge for me!

These horses have been both sweet and easily trained, and luckily my talented students have helped me with riding the horses. However, being able to accept that I couldn’t just do it myself has been quite hard for me. I was the one standing on the ground directing my students, instead of just getting up on the horse and doing the riding training on my own. But when you are very pregnant, and right after a caesarean, it is impossible to start the riding process on a young horse.

Luckily, the horses are now trained, one has already been sold, and the 3 other mares are now ready for sale and searching for new loving homes.

All of them are unique

The 3 mares are different, and each of them has their own temper. One of them really likes moving forward, is flexible, walks well, has a good build and has the potential to become a very good dressage horse. The other one is very calm, strong, sturdy and totally stable walking. It could definitely become a very good handicap or therapy horse.

They’ve all been trained with the WHC-method, and they now have a solidly built foundation for further training. They are suitable for horsemanship, because the issue of leadership is sorted out. They are cooperative, trustworthy, follow you without additional equipment from the ground and can be ridden with a cordeo. Of course they are also suitable for normal riding and for the sport. They´ve learned the fundamental dressage and they’ve been introduced to the terrain.

So are you, or someone you know, searching for a new horse? Then these horses are a very good bet 

I will be back in May

Fortunately, I will soon be ready again, and I take new horses in training in May. Summer is coming, the sun is shining, and I see a busy season in front of me. I´ve already got many horses on my waiting list.

Summer program

As always, I’m looking forward very much to my summer courses and horsemanship camps for kids and grown-ups.
You can find the summer program on my front page.

See Mia telling about the four horses.

A few months ago I got four beautiful Frederiksborg horses into my training program. All four of them are completely untrained and inexperienced; they all came from the same breeder and are now being trained and prepared to be sold in the future.

They sleep close to each other
Of the four beautiful horses, three are female and one is a gelding. They are from 3 to 5 years and were all brought up in the same large herd. They have lived happily in large grass meadows during the summer and have gone free range in winter. They have very close relationships with each other; they walk close together and sleep close to each other. In the beginning, it was a challenge just to separate one from the others to train it individually.

They are brand new
This job is particularly delightful for me because as a behavioral therapist, I work the most with horses who demonstrate inappropriate or atypical behavioral; this often is related to inappropriate experiences, patterns or undiscovered pain or injury. Therefore, it is so nice to meet the opposite, namely horses without previous management, bad experiences, and without injury or pain caused by poorly adapted equipment or improper riding. These horses are brand new and are very fast learners.

They need to learn everything
There is still a lot of work in the job, because they have to learn all the elements involved in the daily handling, such as walking, standing, being groomed / sorted, washed, how to gain trust and confidence, and how to accept human leadership. The training program contains Building Muscles, acceptance of the rider and equipment, learning the riding signals, basic training, familiarization with the terrain riding, etc.

The will end up as succesful allround horses
The goal is that they end up as successful allround horses with a solid training foundation, both in the equestrian sport as well as in horsemanship.

They have chosen to collaborate
Although it sounds like a lot, then this task seems easier than most because there are no patterns of improper behavior to break. All the horses have been trained with the When Horses Choose method from the start, which gives them the foundation that is so important to me; namely, horses who have chosen man / me as their leader and have chosen to collaborate in all aspects of training. This is a choice which means that their resistance disappears, so they are highly motivated – and most importantly, they are safe in both handling and riding.

They are like wild horses
The training of these 4 red natural horses reminds me of my time with the wild horses the United States because they exude the same calmness from within – and they have the same all-natural equine behavior that characterize the wild horses.

Let your horses grow up in a herd
It makes me think about how important the horse’s upbringing and environment are. The more we meet and can imitate their natural living conditions -giving them plenty of space, allowing them to grow up in large herds, allowing them to educate and protect each other etc. – the more we achieve horses with far more balanced, rational and natural behavior patterns.

Now that it is getting colder and colder, everyone has to make the decision of whether or not to blanket up our horses, or let them be out in the wind, rain and cold. But new research shows that horses by themselves are able to decide whether they want to get dressed or not.

Many people are for this -it is easier to keep our horses clean dry, and warm. Just as many people are against it -A horse is a horse and it is given fur, for a reason, and therefore it is not necessary to cover up the horses. (Worst case scenareo horses can get stuck in the blanket or it can be bitten to pieces).

However, the big question is, what would our horses choose, if they could choose?

New research supports the training method WhenHorsesChoose

Throughout all my years, I have experienced that horses can choose whether they want to do something, or say no to specific training elements. The WHC method is based on the horse’s own prerogative to freely say yes or no and supports them in appropriate ways. “The horse has the freedom to choose if it wants to cooperate or not; if they choose to cooperate, the resistance is broken and leadership is achieved.

New studies support my experience with the horse’s power to say yes or no. Cecilie M. Mejdell, PhD, at the Norwegian Veterans Institute, and colleagues have made a communication system with horses that allows them to understand the animal’s expression of its wish to be covered or not.

Horses agree

No matter how great it sounds, the horses that participated, choose from printed images and symbols. One representing yes, and another representing no…. Horses seem to agree on when they want to be covered, and when they don’t. They especially agreed that they wanted to be covered up on rainy days.
The fact that horses can say yes or no is nothing new to me, but the fact that they can say yes or no based on pictures or symbols is new, and gives me a lot of new ideas. The options of communicating between horses and humans gives a lot of new possibilities for interactions amongst the two.

Read the whole article on: http://www.thehorse.com/articles/34718/study-horses-can-communicate-blanketing-preferences

It is winter, it is raining, it is windy and the mud is once again all over my feet. That means that there is a risk of the horses getting mould on their legs. Which can be a huge problem, especially at my place, where a lot of the horses walk around freely in a heat active stable, and therefor do not really get indoors to dry.

I clearly remember last year’s mud, and the eight horses that had mug on their legs at the same time. Jeez, the 3-4 hours of daily shaving and cutting their hair, thorough washing to scrape off the mould, thorough drying, and last but not least, I had to rub them in all sorts of cream. Yeah, I felt that in my back real quick. Luckily, I found a better solution.

I had a horse in training, that had small wounds all over its body. The vet gave me a pain reliving ointment called ‘socatil’ that I had to rub on the little wounds, but only a thin layer. The ointment was made for pigs, with diarrhea, and is given orally. However, the vet had good experience with the ointment, and had used it on wounds before.

When the same horse later got mould on his legs, I tried using the same ointment, and the next day the mould was gone. Ever since then, I have used ‘socatil’ to treat mould and with good results. No more, washing thoroughly. Now I just brush and clean the leg, scrape of the worst crusts, and rub the whole leg in the ointment. In only a matter of days the mould is strongly reduced or completely gone. This ointment works by creating a dry waterproof layer around the leg.

So even if the horse is out in the wet mud, the ointment will still dry out the mold.

Oh, I just discarded 4 saddles, and I’m not a saddler. I am in the middle of the process, of saddle training a 4 year old mare who is about to be ridden. The riding adaption has been unproblematic so far, and the mare has been very willing to cooperate, but saddle training can be very hard. Here is a few good advices.

As you have probably noticed, I always start the ridding adaption, by riding the horse without equipment. At first because I want the horse to freely accept the fact that I am on its back.. When the horse accept me on its back, and I am able to control it simply by the mane. I start the adaption of equipment. In the beginning I only use a bitless bridle, that is because I can feel exactly what is going on underneath me when I am riding the horse bareback.

The saddle is the problem

If a horse without equipment, is able to stand still during ascent, and suddenly starts moving when using the saddle, then the saddle could be the problem.

During saddle adaption, I use the saddle that the owner has brought with the horse. With my naked eye I see that the saddles weight is lying to much in the front, and that it therefore is placed across the horse’s shoulder.

Unfortunately, things like that happens often, but it has its reasons; The horse is often young. It has just been, or is still about to grow. Contemporary with that it hasn’t built any muscles yet. it is now that the horse needs to develop its muscles to be able to handle being ridden. The horse’s body is going to change a lot during riding adaption.

One again…

I change the saddle with my “good old” saddle, that I can see with is way too long. I change into a new saddle, and get disappointed because I can see that it is too short, and it probably weight to much from behind.

Hmm.. I call the owner and ask her to bring a new saddle. This time the saddle seems to fit. I get up and ride few rounds, then it feels like the horse is almost crawling underneath me.

I jump off and look at the saddle, which seem to be lying in a good position, but then I see that it has been gliding forward, and is now lying directly on the shoulder.

I take of the saddle, get up on the horse’s back, and now it is easily doing the trot – without the saddle.

Pressure pad

And now I remember what the saddler Stine Julø said at her last clinic, which I paticipated in. “Now, get those saddles fixed and adjusted!”.
saddles need to be individually built, and as often as our horses are changing physically, as often should we adjust our saddles. In that way the horse won’t be hindered, and it won’t get pains or injuries. Contemporary with that, Stine Julø presented a so-called “pressure pad” which shows how the saddle is dividing the weight beyond the horses back, also during the riding adaption.

I truly recommend this fantastic tool to everyone having doubt about whether the saddle fits the horse. Maybe you can a saddle that you haven’t bought yet. The pressure pas will show you exactly where and how much pressure the saddle is making. Now we no longer have to trust the saddle seller. We can check it ourselves.

So friends, before you buy equipment for your horse, please make sure that it fits the horse!

Read more about the pressure pad on: Gundsø Dyreklinik eller på: http://www.pressurepad.dk/pressurepad

A lovely and very busy summer, has now come to an end. That’s means I have time to write my block every week again.
This summer I’ve had many different horses in training at my farm. I´ve had Problem horses, horses in saddle training, horses who needed further educated or rehabilitation training. I´ve also been busy arranging clinics and teaching youngsters and children. Again this year, some of my talented students did a show at The Great Horseday In Roskilde.

During the summer experiences I´ve noticed the excessive number of the many horses showing signs of injuries that haven´t been discovered. This could be a tangible injury, or a stiff neck or pain somewhere. This ofcourse mostly applies to horses with resistance and / or limitations in specific exercises in riding, in daily handling, or the horses with direct behavioral problems.

Sad and in pain
It is surprising and sad how many horses that are in pain, or have an injury without us owners noticing. Sometimes we have an idea about it, but our wet can’t find the injury… On the other side, it´s quite logical, because our horses can´t tell us if they are in pain. If it`s not exactly a very visible injury, like if the horse is lame, it can be quite a hard thing to discover. Our horses are prey animals, who prefer not to show weakness.

Because I work with horses completely free of equipment,it quickly becomes clear where the horse’s resistance stems from. When the horse is completely free in the choice whether or not to cooperate with us, it suddenly becomes easy to distinguish between what the horse will and will not do for us and thereby easy to detect their pattern. There can be thousands of reasons why a horse develop behavioral problems. But often its worth thinking about if the underlying cause could be, because it hurts somewhere. My experience has shown me some indicators to be aware of.

Read your horse in the right way
It is an indicator if your horse has been working fine during specific exercises, and then suddenlyshow resistance. Or if your horse all of a sudden changes behavior from being calm into getting nervous, or changes behavior from being “cool” into angry or dominating. If our horses hurt somewhere they´ll in the painful situations get a little defensive and act either through fear or increased dominance – depending on their place in the hierarchy.

If your horse trusts you, is willing to cooperate, and still shows a lot of resistance in specific situations, like getting saddled, accept mount by rider, if it has a hard time getting around on one of the diagonals in riding or if its not able to lift one of the legs etc.. Then the alarm bells should ring. The faster we notice if our horses are having pains, the faster we can prevent a long lasting injury. And the sooner we discover if our horses hurt somewhere, the greater the likelihood that we avoid permanent damage.

PS:
Are you sitting there, thinking about a question or subject which could be exciting for me to block about. Then you are more than welcome to write it to me.
Thank you!

Nothing works!

“When I’m riding my horse, its walking behind the other horses and when I want It to move forward ( be in the front) it just stops and refuses to walk before another horse takes over the lead. When I’m riding on my own, my horse blocks again. Sometimes I have to get off, and walk from the ground, before my horse allows me to ride it again. I have tried using my voice and a whip, but nothing works!”

Today I got that question, and I was thinking that it might be a big issue to many people.

The horse is searching for a leader

It seems the horse is low ranching, and that’s the reason why it wants to follow another horse. It is searching leadership. The way to solve the problem is to become the leader of the horse. The horse needs support from the rider. It needs to choose to listen to the rider, instead of searching for the other horses.

There are many Views on how to establish leadership. I always start out by putting leadership into ground work, and then I do the same thing from the back of the horse.

A quick now or never method is to make the horse back up a few steps. When the horse blocks, it is the riders task to try making it back up quickly followed by making it go forward. The rider has to make it back up again, turn to one of the sides and then keep on walking. Continue the training until your horse doesn’t hesitate by walking anymore. Praise your horse when it walks.

Give the horse comfort

In nature, horses never just go backwards. They only do it when they are perpetuating to a higher ranching horse. After the rider has made the horse back up, it’s often followed by some licking and chewing from the horse. That’s very good signs, because its shows that the horse has understood your message. It is a submissive sign.

Every time that A rider makes the horse back up. The rider shows that he/ or her is higher in the hierarchy than their horse. That should give the horse enough comfort to move forward. All horses are searching for a leader.

I currently have a few stallions in training here on my farm , and I must admit that I am always thrilled to work with them!

Few of my colleagues wish to take stallions into training, and there are several reasons for this reticence. One is that stallions usually need more space because they cannot be integrated into an existing flock. Another reason may be of an entirely practical nature, such as the height of the fences, which must be higher than 160 cm to prevent unfortunate coverings.

On my farm, the frame is purposely designed to train stallions. I have wide experience in training stallions and have never found that they are either more or less difficult to train than any other horse.

Method

Stallions at my farm are trained using exactly the same method. They are completely free like the other horses, and it works!.

As with all horses, we must pay attention to the development of the horse during the training process. The coach must be responsive to the horse’s physical development and to the horse’s mental state, so that the result of the training is as complete as possible for both the stallion and the owner.

It always gives me great satisfaction and joy when I see a stallion accompany its owner without a leash or any form of coercion, while seven wild mares are neighing in the paddock right next door.

Away with the stallion chain and in with appreciative leadership!

The Horse Rider’s Journal

This weekend I’m going to England to train Spanish stallions at Lomond Stallions farm and to be interviewed by The Horse Rider’s Journal.

I’m looking forward to sharing the session with all of you.

My new film

By the way, there is a new film on my website where you can see how I train a wild stallion and how much I achieve in two days.

Often I get asked the question, what’s the idea with “the corner” (the safe haven – read more under “the five Pillers”) in my training method. Here’s the answer:

Like everything I do in my horse training, my method derives from my studies of wild horse behaviour in the USA. When I was observing the wild horses’ method of communication, it was obvious that the leader horse used the corner to regulate the other horses’ behaviour in the herd.

If a horse was behaving inappropriately, the leader horse took its stand and pushed the horse into a corner. Often just a few steps away, but enough for the horse to understand the leader horse’s message: “You are not acting appropriately, therefore you´re endangering the herd. That’s the reason you can’t be part of the herd right now.”

During my observation of the wild horses, I have never experienced a leader horse start a battle with another wild horse in the middle of the terrain. A corner, or a restricted space was always used by the leader horse.

Tame horses act the same as wild horses

When I returned to Denmark, I started working with tame horses. I observed the same pattern of behaviour where the leader horse would maintain his hierarchy in the herd by sending another horse out of the herd. In our small paddock, this often involves the leader horse sending the other horse to the most faraway corner or the other side of the paddock.

You don’t necessarily have to use the corner of the field, it works just as well by using another part of the field. Or, you can in principle just settle for walking towards the horse and making it back up a few steps when the horse is not following your instruction. The method works for me because its faster in calming the wild horse.

When I offer the horse a corner as its own domain, it’s not meant as a form of punishment but rather a safe place of refuge for the horse. The horse quickly understands that the corner or the side of the field is where it has to go to get a break or peace for a moment during my training. And the horse always retreats to this place if what I ask them to do is too hard. It’s a place where it’s not going to get stressed, but a place in which it still gets the offer to follow me. It’s a place where the horse gets care and peace, a place of constant safety during the training.

Clear speech

My method also provides a clear opportunity for communication. It becomes obvious which part of the training the horse likes and accepts, and which parts it finds difficult. If the horse follows, it’s a yes to my offer and if it says no, it turns around and goes to its safe corner.

In nature, horses don’t run around with a bag of carrots and, they don’t reward each other by doing something good and fitting in to the hierarchy. Horses aren’t born with a halter and rope. They are free animals who arrange themselves into a hierarchy without the pressure of a rope around their necks.

That’s why I use this method, and it’s completely natural for me to start every training by releasing the horse and letting it be completely free.

This time of year, with the wind blowing and constant rain, often reminds me of how important it is that our horses have a good, solid foundation of training.

The most important thing in WHC is to create a solid foundation that needs to work permanently as a stance for you and your horse. It is from here that all training arises, a place which you can always return to when something gets difficult. A safe place. It is important that your horse has trust in you, and trust is necessary to gain leadership. A horse will only choose a leader, if it has absolute confidence and trust.

The gaining of leadership is important because horses live in hierarchies, where the lead horse is controlling and protecting the herd. When we create leadership, we answer our horse’s many questions about everything that’s going on. We bring them peace of mind, knowing that it’s safe to follow us, allowing them to follow the lead horse. Because horses are horses and can only act like horses, as soon as they sense we are not predators, they will try to find out where they are in the hierarchy in relation to us. If we can manage to establish trust and leadership, we have the means and method of creating a constantly positive development.

We can also reduce the possibility of conflict when we are handling and riding our horse in this way.

It is a natural for horses to try to move up in the hierarchy. If one horse shows weakness, another one takes over. So in one way or another, the horses will always try to take control. They will test where they are in the hierarchy by showing either a dominating or a timid behaviour. The faster we convince them that we are their leader, the faster we give them peace of mind. To establish or retain leadership, we must be clear, consistent and ensure there are consequences, just like the leader horse would act. That doesn’t mean being physically tough, because if we are, the horse will lose its trust. No, we must be the loving, praising-giving, consistent, safe leader.

This way, we attain better safety and much more ease in handling and riding our horse, which is what we all really want.