Young Horses – Teaching them to learn

Jonathan and Cameo

Jonathan and Cameo

I love when I get the chance to run in to a horseman that has raised and trained young horses for a lifetime.

I was at the Saskatchewan Equine Expo this past February and there were horses brought in for the Trainers Challenge event.  After my clinics were done, I caught the final Trainers Challenge session with these 3 year old quarter horses.  I noticed they were a really nice crop of horses, and when I asked who brought them I was introduced to a gentleman named Tom King.  Tom and his family have raised and bred horses at Diamond K Ranch in south eastern Saskatchewan for 40 years.
With that many years of working with both horses and young people under his belt, Tom was able to really boil things down to what matters when starting a young horse.  So I asked Tom the same question I’ve asked many other horseman I’ve had the pleasure of meeting: “What is the most important thing you start with when teaching these horses?”

He had so much to share!

When he sells his young horses, Tom likes to help people that are willing to get started on the right foot, so he offers some advice and ideas that may help.  One of his first bits of advice is “The first thing we are going to do is teach this colt how to learn”.

I love that!  What amazing advice to start with!  And so often overlooked with both young horses and started horses.  Many times people get wrapped up in:  Here is a task, exercise or goal – let’s get to it.  Sometimes without considering if this horse is even in an open, learning state.  But before that, does he know how to learn?  As a clinician, I sometimes take it for granted that we are always asking ourselves that question. But it struck me to think about when was the last time I took it as a teachable moment with my students.
This simple first step really relates to any horse and rider.  Let’s take the time to teach our horse how to learn, then ask ourselves if he’s in an open and learning state before beginning something new.

Only after we can see this horse is processing and taking something in can we begin to move to a task that we may want to teach him.

One horse Tom had was very standoff-ish and challenging, so he took a barrel into the pen, haltered the filly, and just sat on the barrel holding the end of the lead rope with all the slack hanging between them.  He sat there for quite some time while that filly stayed as far away as she could before the rope would get tight.  After some time passed, she slowly came up behind him and gently sniffed his back.  Then a bit more time passed.  Still standing behind him, she very gently reached around and rested her nose on his on his leg.  Tim repeated this exercise a few more times with this filly, each time giving her a rub after she approached him, then turning her out – leaving her with a good impression.  It was these sessions that caused this filly to begin to open up to learning.

Let Tom’s story be an important reminder to make sure that your horse is in an open learning state with a brain to train.  Anything you want to introduce won’t be learned by your horse if they’re thinking about the barn or their buddy more than you, or if a previous training session left him particularly sceptical because the above step wasn’t asked ahead of time.  Before you jump in to the plan that YOU have, be sure you have a brain to train and your horse is ready to learn.

If you have a horse that is difficult to connect with and teach, or if you’re unsure how to tell if he’s even ready to learn, this information is covered in my latest DVD series, The Start is Everything – The Ultimate Guide to Staring your young horse.  On the DVD set, you’ll notice we’ve included (re) to the title, as the pathway to success with many horses is to be re-started.  The information provided in this DVD set is not only for young horses, but is also how  you’d approach a horse that has holes in his foundation that cause problems moving forward in any discipline.  After massive amounts of effort, I created this DVD set based on many years of study and all of my experience with young and previously started horses.  This set includes information about the horses that are difficult to connect with and teach, and where you’ll learn about overcoming that ‘wall’ that many riders tell me they encounter when trying to teach their horse something new.

The reStart is Everything DVD Set

The reStart is Everything DVD Set

Thanks for a great reminder Tom!  You can visit Diamond K Ranch at www.diamondk.ca .  Next time you get to visit with a older, experienced horseman or horsewoman, leave some time and space between your thoughts about your horse and iPhone photos to see if you can draw a gem of knowledge or inspiration from their years of experience.

All the best to you!
Stay, Inspired by Horses

Jonathan

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Behind the scenes with Jonathan Field and Friends

Hello Everyone,
Andrea here – letting you in on some of the preparatory action that’s already in motion for Jonathan Field and Friends this September.
Some of you may remember me, as I worked for Jonathan and Angie for a while about four years ago (Angie is my sister).  Well, I am back on the team for the time being to help get everything ready for Jonathan Field and Friends, and wanted to update you all on where we’re at:
In case any of you are unsure and are asking “Just what is Jonathan Field and Friends going to be about?”, don’t let the ‘International Horsemanship Education Conference’ part of the title scare you.  Yes, it will be educational, but you will not be spending two days in an overly bright arena with a notepad on your lap while Jonathan and friends drone on about horse confirmation and your husband begins to snore in the seat next to you.  Because there will also be horses there – trained ones and not so trained ones.  Tacked horses and horses with no ropes.  Definitely some music and maybe a little dancing (if Nathan gets REALLY in to his role…we can hope!).
Let’s put it this way, we’re putting together some horsemen, a can’t-get-much-higher-level-than-him Show Jumper/Coach, a World Champion Reiner, a Cutting Horse Trainer, the host of the SuperDogs show and a bunch of unpredictable & FAST four legged prey animals.  There are bound to be both entertaining and educational moments born of the mix.  The trick is to find a healthy balance of the two.
It’s being held in a brand new building in a beautiful and friendly city, there will be a bit of shopping (yay!), autograph signing, and the concession will be open – so bring a bit of cash and a Sharpie in your favourite colour.
As you know, the venue is booked.  Jonathan himself spent many hours sourcing the right location that met with the vision he has for this event.  And the Agrium Western Event Centre does not disappoint!  It’s pretty special that we were able to book Jonathan Field and Friends as one of the first events in this brand new venue, and definitely the first of it’s kind.  If you’re in the Calgary area, the Calgary Stampede is putting on an Open House Event this Saturday, June 21 from 11:00 – 2:00 to show off the new building.  There will be free BBQ for the first 5,000 guests as well as free entertainment and family activities.  Go check it out and let us know what you think!
Angie and I are currently working on getting the word out there about the event:
 - I am scouring the internet, looking for on-line Event Calendars to post the show on.  I’ve found a few, but if you know of any I may have missed, please shoot me an email at andrea@jonathanfield.net
 - The first wave of Posters has gone out to clinic hosts, barns, Lammle’s locations, and all of the EXTREMELY HELPFUL people who have volunteered to put a few up in their areas.  Thank you so much!  There is no possible way we could cover as much ground on our own.  There are more posters on order, so if you’ve volunteered and haven’t received them yet, they are coming!  If you’re looking for ideas of where to put the posters besides the obvious barns, feed stores and tack stores, here are a few suggestions:  Post Offices, multi-address mail boxes, General Store windows, Recreation Centre bulletin boards, Community Bulletin Boards, take a picture of the poster and Instagram it or add it to your FaceBook wall.
Speaking of Social Media, with your help we can get this arena filled!  Like us on Facebook (Jonathan Field and Friends), Instagram (jonathanfieldhorseman) and Twitter (@jonathanfield_ ), talk about it if you’re excited to go, ‘cause we’re very excited to have you there.
We are coordinating upcoming contest details with Canadian Horse Journal.  Watch for this one in the Canadian Horse Journal Magazine, on-line at www.horsejournal.com and on FaceBook and Twitter.
Jonathan and I are laying out a booth map for the vendors that will be setting up booths at the show.  Yay shopping!
I have begun work on cover design for a brand new DVD set that will be released at the show.  As a matter of fact, I just watched the first draft of a trailer we’re working on.  I don’t ride myself, but the trailer totally made me want to see more.  I can’t tell you too much about it at this point, but I will say that it was very interesting to see a snippets of Jonathan in a slightly nervous student role.
That’s it for now.  Thank you for taking the time to read and I will update again as we progress.
Andrea

 

Jonathan Field and Friends poster

Jonathan Field and Friends poster

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Jonathan Field Receives Top Honours at the 2014 Road to the Horse International.

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An exciting update from the Road to the Horse International!

After 3 amazing days of demos and colt starting in Kentucky, Jonathan received the Jack Brainard Best Horseman Award! We are so proud of this prestigious award that was presented to Jonathan by Mr. Brainard himself. He is considered a living legend and one of the most respected horsemen in the world today.

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Jonathan just wouldn’t be Jonathan if he wasn’t attracted to the sensitive and skeptical type of horse. So he ended up picking a very challenging horse to work with in the short timeline. He named him Mojo because he had lots of it! Mojo is a beautiful, intelligent and quick learner that needed a bit more time to trust. Jonathan set the foundation on the first day and made huge progress from there. After each rest period Mojo came back more trusting and looking to Jonathan for leadership. Taking time by preparing Mojo on the ground was well worthwhile to earn his trust. It was very exciting to see how far this colt came in such a short period of time.

Said media pass holder Dianne Garnett Killen after Jonathan was presented with his award:

No one could argue with the choice! You brought along a skeptical, challenging and quick minded horse, and you never sacrificed the horse for the show. Another trainer might have pushed to make something happen, but you let the horse trust you to make good choices.”

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Beyond the colt starting aspect of the Road to the Horse, it was a wonderful show for Jonathan Field Horsemanship. The addition of clinics and shows with Hal and Quincy inspired the audience, brought some to tears and even received a standing ovation! A special weekend all around!

There are actually four winners at the Road to the Horse. All the contestants did a fantastic job with their colts. Canada was well represented with Jonathan receiving the Jack Brainard award and James Anderson bringing it home with his points for the World Championship title.  Congratulations to James for making it all the way from the Wild Card Competition through to the Championship! Australia and Switzerland were also exceptionally well represented by Dan Steers and Antoine Cloux.

Congratulations to Tootie Bland and her whole team for putting on an event that sets the bar for excitement, production and professionalism.

DSC_0113Also thanks so much to our dear friend and pen wrangler Bruce Logan for coming to Kentucky to assist Jonathan with his success. It was a team effort all around!

Stay Inspired by Horses

Jonathan Field Horsemanship Team

 

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Getting ready for Road to the Horse!

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People often ask me “What is the biggest challenge with Road to the Horse?”
 
This is what I find it to be: This is an event that you prepare and plan for a solid year. It’s on your mind daily from the second Tootie Bland the producer, tells you “you’re in!”
 
Then, at the moment you walk in with the colt, you mustcompletely let go all that planning and be fully present with the horse that’s in front of you. And in that instant begin to build a new plan. Of course there’s no pressure! 8000 people, 5 judges, TV cameras and a horse you have never met that is completely untrained. 
 
The biggest challenge is to accept that moment fully and think about only what matters. It’s actually quite exciting and personally challenging. I love it!! 


I look forward to when I am asked “Are you ready?” and I get to open the gate and walk in to get started. 

 
This event is an amazing full production weekend that raises the bar on any horse event. 
 
Hope to see you there! 
 
Jonathan 

 

 

 

 
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Grass: Are you the Leader? Or is the Grass?

Each year, during our camps at the James Creek Ranch, a consistent question comes up during our lessons out in the pastures.

With all that beautiful, lush grass, it can be difficult to keep our horses attention on us and away from the feast in front of them!

There are many times that I allow my horses to graze.  I often enjoy spending quality time with them, hanging out while they eat grass. There are other times when I want them to stay focused on me.  Here is a short video showing how I teach my horses a cue to tell them to stop eating grass and connect back to me.   The important thing is that I want it to be my horses idea to refrain from the grass rather then my job to hold them off it.  By trying to hold the horse and prevent them from eating, the horse will respond by rooting the rope and bracing against us in order to get to the grass.   If we allow this to happen, this brace and disrespect will trickle in to many other areas, including riding. Like with many issues, it is important how we deal with each behaviour so that the respect and communication remains at a high level.

Hope you enjoy this video and get one more idea for your tool box!

Stay Inspired by Horses

Jonathan

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Jonathan Gets Fit for Road the Horse 2014: With The Help of One Tough Grandma!!

 

I am very excited to be heading back to Road to The Horse in Lexington, Kentucky in March 2014!

Starting colts is very physically demanding, and when you are doing it in front of thousands of people, over only 3 days… well, lets just say you don’t want to go into it fresh off the couch!

Staying fit has always been important to me, but I am making an extra effort in preparation for Road to the Horse.

A student, and good friend of mine, Lynn McTaggart was recently up at the James Creek Ranch during the “Purpose Camp”. Lynn, at 68 years young, is a grandmother now, and an inspiration to us all! She ranks in the top 20 in the world in her category in the Cross Fit Training program, and is also the oldest in her category!

Even with a long day in the saddle during the camp, Lynn still managed to get in a workout each day. I was thrilled to have Lynn take me through a short workout, giving me some great exercises that are helpful for all riders! I really encourage riders to find ways to stay fit and strong – It really helps with posture, balance and becoming an active rider for our horses. Try these exercises at home! (Well, maybe not the first one)

Take care and Stay Inspired by Horses!

Jonathan

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Check out this Documentary about Jonathan!

Last fall a production team, hired by Servus TV (a network owned by Red Bull energy drinks) came out to film a documentary about Jonathan!  They followed us all over and captured some amazing footage of Jonathan and his horses. The documentary has aired across Europe, and we are now able to watch it online by following the link below.  Who knows, maybe some of you will find yourself or someone you know in there somewhere!

http://www.servustv.com/cs/Satellite/Article/Bullit—The-Documentary-011259517412142

Throughout the Filming, our photographer Robin Duncan captured some great Photos! Here are some shots from behind the scenes!

Jonathan

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Willing to go to great lengths to get the shot!

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A big thank you to Fred for being our Pilot!

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Jonathan, Weston and Mason with our awesome film crew!

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The film crew had a great time up at the ranch, soaking up that last bit of summer!

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We had camera’s everywhere!

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Quincy was a star for this shot!

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