I finished watching Clinton Anderson’s Colt Starting DVDs on Monday. That was just the initial watch-through… I’m going to be rewatching and taking notes starting next Monday.
It always amazes me how similar child training and animal training – whether it be dogs or horses or even cats (those things are nearly impossible to train if you don’t have an infinite supply of patience).
I’m not saying that you use the same techniques, but the principles are the same. I pick up more on how to train my kids when I’m watching horse training stuff than when I’m reading or watching child training stuff (sorry, Mr. Pearl – although I do need to re-read To Train Up A Child at some point in the near future).
The two horsemen I have followed in my horsemanship journey, Pat Parelli and now Clinton Anderson, have supplied me with a couple of tips to use on both horses and children.
My favorite of Pat’s is, “Take the time it takes so it takes less time.” This means that when you come across a training problem, you take all the time you need right then to work through it, instead of giving up or letting it go. By working through it right then, you make sure that it doesn’t drag on for days and weeks or even years on end, unresolved. It may take hours now, but the result is so much better and comes a lot faster than if you didn’t take the time now to work on it.
Clinton Anderson likes to tell us to make the wrong answer difficult and the right answer easy – meaning if your horse (or child) makes the wrong decision when you tell him to do something, make his life difficult until he makes the right decision. Then immediately back off and give him a “good boy”. I’d like to point out right here that you don’t abuse the animal or child, although a firm spanking might be in order.
A lot of people like to tell an animal or child to do something, but when he resists they just give up or bribe the creature into giving in. This is bad horsemanship, and terrible parenting.
As a horseman and/or a parent, we have to prove ourselves to be respectful and respectable, without being terrifying.
We have to set our expectations (being careful that they’re achievable but still high), and when they’re not immediately fulfilled, teach the child or horse how to reach them.
I got to meet Pat in Oklahoma in October 2014, and he’s actually a pretty great guy. Clinton Anderson is now on my bucket list to meet, and since he lives only a few hours away in Stephenville, Texas, I might get away with that in the next few years.
I love my family, and I love my horses. I want to train horses for a living (or at least as a large part of our income), and I want my sons and future children to be well-trained and growing up to be wise and strong in spirit.
To do those things, I need to implement my knowledge of training now, and pray and work toward becoming a better horsewoman, and a better mother.