are not so different from children in a lot of respects. If your
child doesn't pay attention to the teacher in school, he/she doesn't learn
what is being taught regardless of how well the teacher teaches.
If your horse is focused on his buddies or thinking about
his next meal, how is he going to learn from you? Just how do you get
your horse's ATTENTION so that you can teach him what he needs
Note: We always begin the work with our horses from
the ground until the desired results are achieved; then we proceed to
the mounted work.
Check out the possible ways that might be used to get your
horse's Attention as listed below and choose the one that you think would
work best. Results of all answers given by our readers will be tallied
and posted. When Bob posts his explanations for both the correct
and incorrect answers, we will add a new Teaching Post. Please be advised,
we are attempting a little humor here.
Answers and Explanations to Teaching Post
NOT CHOICE "a" because:
This will teach the horse to always expect a treat from you and most
likely will encourage nipping which can lead to more aggressive behavior.
Furthermore, you can't be giving treats when you are showing the horse
or if you happen to be out of treats.
More importantly, giving treats allows the horse to decide
to pay attention to you only when you have something for him that he wants,
such as food. If the horse decides that the treat isn't of interest,
you won't get his attention.
NOT CHOICE "b" because:
In addition to being abusive, by hitting the horse with anything (including
your hand), you are picking a fight. If the horse decides to fight back,
he will undoubtedly win because of his obvious physical advantages.
NOT CHOICE "c" because:
Although this tactic is often suggested, it more often than not leads
to teaching the horse to throw his head as an attempt to get away from
the pressure and pain that results when you pull or jerk on the lead shank.
CHOICE "e" is PART RIGHT-- PART WRONG because:
This is only correct if the horse already understands how to do what
you are asking him to do. Therefore, if you put a cue on and the
horse understands what the cue means and correctly responds to the cue,
he now becomes focused on you. But if you are trying to teach the
horse something new, or if you are starting a totally "green" horse, or
if your horse is simply "tuning you out", he will not respond to the cue
and you simply become an annoyance to him. When this happens, you
have to go back to the Attention Getting exercise as explained in the
And the Correct answer is "d" because:
By inducing the fear motivator (attention getter), we immediately
get the horse to notice us...hence we get his attention. We never hit
the horse to get his attention, because by hitting the horse, you are
giving him a justifiable reason to be afraid and to "hit back". For a
fear motivator we only use the senses of sight and sound. You will know
when you have the horse's attention, when he turns and faces you in a
relaxed and non-aggressive manner and appears to be waiting for your next
Consider this analogy: The teacher in a classroom of
inattentive students, doesn't get anywhere by just quietly going on with
the lesson. Rather, a loud clap of the hands or a shout of Listen UP!
is needed to get their attention first. Basically, the same thing
is true with an inattentive horse. You can use a short whip or your hand
to hit your leg (not his) and the sudden movement (sight) and crack
or slap (sound) of the hit will get his attention. Then we can proceed
to ask for a small piece of movement from the horse and immediately reward
the horse for his response with petting and kind words.