[ Foundation (1) ]

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A foundation is something referred to by many horsemen around the world (I refer to both male and female talents when using the word horsemen or horseman).  It is so commonly used because there simply isn’t any other word that better describes the most important aspect of horsemanship than foundation.


SO WHAT IS A FOUNDATION?

A foundation in horsemanship terms is much the same as any other foundation in that it starts with the solid base that is installed first, on which further layers or levels can be built.  However, each layer can be looked at as a foundation in its own right, because if that layer is not built well then the next layer and all the layers above it may be compromised – so the better quality the base is then the structure being built above it is likely to be stronger and more superior than one with poorly laid foundations, assuming, of course, the same care and attention is paid to each level being created.


What is involved and how do we start to achieve a foundation for the horse and rider?

Ideally the foundation for the horse would start the day he was born.  In this case we would be able to lay the most solid foundation possible by attempting to ensure that each experience the little horse had was a positive one, from holding his feet up to be checked or trimmed, to standing quietly at a level crossing whilst a high speed passenger train or noisy goods train rumbles by.  Having positive associations with things will help to build his confidence, and the more confident a horse is the more likely he is to think things through in difficult situations instead of reacting instinctively and potentially having or causing an accident.

Most of us, however, own horses and ponies that have had lots of experiences already.  This sounds great but not all of those experiences are likely to have been positive ones.  In this situation you could say that your 8 year old riding horse, for example, must have a foundation because he has been backed and will be led from place to place etc and, yes, to all intents and purposes he does, but is it a really good and solid foundation?  Most commonly the answer to this question is no because things don’t go as well as they could, for example, does your horse walk quietly beside you when being led, stopping when you stop, walking when you walk, trotting when you trot, or does he tend to forget you’re there and either stand on you, pull at the lead rope, barge past you, push into you?  This is just one example.  So often horses are not actually taught to lead, we just expect that they will.  I see so many people who accept difficult and, to all intents and purposes, challenging behaviour from their horses believing that this is just the way horses are – the simple problem here is that generally speaking they do not understand why the horse behaves the way he does in various situations.  It is also most important that the horse and human meet each other halfway – a 49:51 relationship with the handler having the controlling share to remove any insecurities about who in the partnership is making the decisions, is the aim.  Once the horse gets the idea that if he puts effort into something and holds his responsibility of the moment then we will meet him halfway by ensuring we are feeling of him, returning to ‘neutral’ at the first opportunity after a moment of support and not putting him in a position of danger or getting him into any trouble.

It is possible, however, to rebuild a foundation for the horse very successfully.  There is no shortcut here though.  Underpinning is not an option because it doesn’t actually solve the problem at the cause, it just helps to stabilise things a bit and it wouldn’t necessarily be a good idea to build any more levels or layers as the foundations may not be able to support them.  The best way would be to go right back to the very beginning and start to rebuild things from the bottom layer up.  This might start with something as simple as leading and tying up but it is interesting how often I find other areas improve when this one small item is addressed.

Q&A

Riding Instructor, Classical Riding Instructor, Western Riding Instructor, Horse Problems, Horsemanship, Backing Horses Hampshire, Restarting Horses Hampshire, Natural Horsemanship Hampshire, Viki Sheppard, Natural Horsemanship Practitioner, Equine Psychologist, Natural Horsemanship Trainer, Natural Horsemanship Methods, Equine Behaviorist, Understanding Horses, Beau-Cheval, Horse Whisperer,

Riding Instructor, Classical Riding Instructor, Western Riding Instructor, Horse Problems, Horsemanship, Backing Horses Hampshire, Restarting Horses Hampshire, Natural Horsemanship Hampshire, Viki Sheppard, Natural Horsemanship Practitioner, Equine Psychologist, Natural Horsemanship Trainer, Natural Horsemanship Methods, Equine Behaviorist, Understanding Horses, Beau-Cheval, Horse Whisperer,

Riding Instructor, Classical Riding Instructor, Western Riding Instructor, Horse Problems, Horsemanship, Backing Horses Hampshire, Restarting Horses Hampshire, Natural Horsemanship Hampshire, Viki Sheppard, Natural Horsemanship Practitioner, Equine Psychologist, Natural Horsemanship Trainer, Natural Horsemanship Methods, Equine Behaviorist, Understanding Horses, Beau-Cheval, Horse Whisperer,

Riding Instructor, Classical Riding Instructor, Western Riding Instructor, Horse Problems, Horsemanship, Backing Horses Hampshire, Restarting Horses Hampshire, Natural Horsemanship Hampshire, Viki Sheppard, Natural Horsemanship Practitioner, Equine Psychologist, Natural Horsemanship Trainer, Natural Horsemanship Methods, Equine Behaviorist, Understanding Horses, Beau-Cheval, Horse Whisperer,

Riding Instructor, Classical Riding Instructor, Western Riding Instructor, Horse Problems, Horsemanship, Backing Horses Hampshire, Restarting Horses Hampshire, Natural Horsemanship Hampshire, Viki Sheppard, Natural Horsemanship Practitioner, Equine Psychologist, Natural Horsemanship Trainer, Natural Horsemanship Methods, Equine Behaviorist, Understanding Horses, Beau-Cheval, Horse Whisperer,

Riding Instructor, Classical Riding Instructor, Western Riding Instructor, Horse Problems, Horsemanship, Backing Horses Hampshire, Restarting Horses Hampshire, Natural Horsemanship Hampshire, Viki Sheppard, Natural Horsemanship Practitioner, Equine Psychologist, Natural Horsemanship Trainer, Natural Horsemanship Methods, Equine Behaviorist, Understanding Horses, Beau-Cheval, Horse Whisperer,

Riding Instructor, Classical Riding Instructor, Western Riding Instructor, Horse Problems, Horsemanship, Backing Horses Hampshire, Restarting Horses Hampshire, Natural Horsemanship Hampshire, Viki Sheppard, Natural Horsemanship Practitioner, Equine Psychologist, Natural Horsemanship Trainer, Natural Horsemanship Methods, Equine Behaviorist, Understanding Horses, Beau-Cheval, Horse Whisperer,

Riding Instructor, Classical Riding Instructor, Western Riding Instructor, Horse Problems, Horsemanship, Backing Horses Hampshire, Restarting Horses Hampshire, Natural Horsemanship Hampshire, Viki Sheppard, Natural Horsemanship Practitioner, Equine Psychologist, Natural Horsemanship Trainer, Natural Horsemanship Methods, Equine Behaviorist, Understanding Horses, Beau-Cheval, Horse Whisperer,