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Horse Training Using the Alpha Mindset
I recently took my three-year-old stallion to hang out at a local show. While watching the class, a woman turned to me and asked: What should I do …? In this case, his horse flew backwards every time he approached to put on the bridle. And so, the questions, what should I do? Why does he do this? As always, tough questions to answer. First, the horse tells me when to do, how to do, what to do in any situation. There is no “if he does this, I will do it” formula. Next, what the horse actually does physically may not be the problem, it may be a byproduct of the problem. What you do know is that what he is doing is not acceptable behavior. The real problem goes back to mindset: horse mindset and even more so human mindset. In other words, for a horse, the problem isn’t necessarily what you’re actually doing, but the pressure from your actions, which in turn triggers a response; in this case it raises its head and flies backwards. The horse uses what Nature’s View calls the tyrant mindset: in other words, freezing or fighting is its natural instinct. When he is in this mode, the horse is actually saying, “I want to do what I want.” Sound familiar? There is nothing wrong with this way of thinking; in fact, in nature, in the Natural World, a horse would depend on it for its survival. The problem is, in our world, that mindset doesn’t serve him well, and if he continues down this path, someone will probably get hurt.
So, back to the first question, what should I do? The first thing to do is to introduce the horse to a new way of thinking: what is called the alpha way of thinking. It may not be the same alpha you’ve heard of in other riding methods. In Nature’s View, alpha simply uses the mindset of “How can I help you?” With the tyrant mindset we mentioned earlier, “I want to do what I want”. the horse decides what to do, or the person decides how much pressure to apply (usually derived from past situations, so you may overreact or underreact). Alpha’s mindset, the other side of the pendulum, is defined as whatever the horse’s resistance is in a particular situation determines the amount of pressure applied and a little more. This mindset requires being in the moment, riding the horse below you, not the one four paces ahead or behind. Remember, we teach and learn by example, so which mindset would you rather have your horse use: an alpha or a tyrant?
In any case, there are four basic things we use to accomplish a task or goal: movement, direction, rhythm, and path. These are actually the things you see: At Nature’s View, we use these things to work on underlying things like problem solving, timing, listening, etc. This actually applies to us too. Think about it: to get ready for work in the morning, you first need to move; then you have to move towards the kitchen for breakfast; but back to the situation with the horse. For example, if during some work we ask the horse to move in a certain direction and the horse decides to change direction on its own, the pressure you apply is equal to its resistance plus a little. a little bit more. If you pay attention to the horse and let him tell you what to do when you apply that pressure, the horse will become more than likely to return to the original direction. Every time you apply pressure, you raise what we call his negative pole. The poles within (both negative and positive) are the feelings that let you know whether or not a situation is good for your well-being. If the resistance continues and you keep increasing the pressure (remember, you’re using an alpha mindset), eventually what they feel about you will be greater than what they imagine (pressure to change direction). As soon as you feel that they have switched to a new way of thinking, you should release the pressure. Don’t get caught up in activity tracking. Remember, as soon as you feel the horse switch to a new way of thinking, you release the pressure.
So back to the questions; we use the bridle (the purpose) as the reason for the journey (building a relationship with your horse) to practice the invisible (timing, feeling, anger management, listening skills) that allows you to develop a whole new alpha mindset or way of thinking; a lot of food for thought, isn’t it?! Just like jumping a jump, crossing a stream, or loading a trailer, putting on or taking off a bridle is one of the many things we see our horses do; but the icing on the cake is having a ready partner for any task we attempt. It’s not about the goal, not even the journey; it’s about the mindset required for both. The goal is simply the reason for the journey. Throughout the journey, we are allowed to practice a mindset and the more skilled we are with that mindset, the more able we are to follow our passions, whatever that may be (ride to school, hunter/jumper, trail riders, western pleasures). So instead of putting the cart before the horse and focusing on the goal or even the journey, we need an alpha mindset first.
Copyright Nature’s View, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.
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