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Training Horses with Denny Emerson

Training Horses with Denny Emerson

Excerpt from Turning Challenging Horses into Willing Partners due for release January, 2010

Maturity provides insight

“I think this is something that comes with getting older,” Denny admits. “There are two ways of addressing ‘my horse won’t do what I want.’ The mature, quiet, classical horseman will say, ‘this horse won’t do what I want, therefore, I am not asking him in a way he understands, or I’m overfacing him with tasks he’s not emotionally prepared to handle.’ But, the impatient person will say, ‘this horse won’t do what I want, therefore, the horse is being bad and I have permission to get on his case and punish him.’ I am now 67 years old, and I need to figure out a quieter or more consistent way to ask him. If you could get the younger ones (riders) to have that more mature attitude toward the training principles, I think you’d have a lot less trouble with horses. If it doesn’t happen in a week, or two weeks, or three months, then that’s OK. But you don’t start to ratchet up the intensity just because it isn’t happening fast enough.

“One of the things that I really do believe is that there can be a very significant difference between someone who is primarily a competitor and someone who is primarily a trainer. Let’s say you’re going to a particular event in two weeks. Your goal is to win the horse trials. If your horse isn’t going well then there’s a funny psychological switch that says ‘my horse is an impediment to my goal’ and you tend to lose patience with your horse.

“If your primary role is a trainer, the objective is to have the horse go well. The event in two weeks is not the priority,” Denny explains. Instead, he says a trainer’s sights are set on finding the right time and place to ensure the horse is able to shine. Patient tolerance and an understanding of equine needs with a schedule designed for the highest-level performance is the focus. “There’s a very different mindset,” he asserts.

“The best horseman is the person that can do both — to be both is really good. I think it’s better to be a good trainer than to be a good competitor. I’ve known a lot of really good competitors where others say ‘that person can really ride, but God forbid that you be his young horse,’ because he doesn’t have the patience to create a young horse. They’re too much in a hurry and they want what they want when they want it,” he notes.

About Denny Emerson:

Denny is currently at his 48th consecutive year of competing at the Preliminary eventing level or higher. He has been honored with the USEA’s Wofford Cup for lifetime service to eventing, the American Riding Instructor Certification Program (ARICP) Lifetime Achievement Award, and was inducted in 2006 into the USEA Hall of Fame.

In addition to his eventing career, Denny has been involved in numerous other horse sports during his 56 years of competing. He rode in his first one-hundred-mile trail ride at GMHA in 1956. Forty-eight years later, in 2004, Denny won a Tevis Cup buckle in endurance, for completing the 50th Anniversary of the Western States Trail Ride, the most famous and arduous 100-mile endurance race in the world. Denny has compiled 2,250 miles in American Endurance Ride Conference races, and was long listed for the 2005 USA East team for the North American Championships.

http://www.tamarackhill.com, denny@tamarackhill.com

Denny will be hosting a clinic, festival and show weekend at his facility September 5-7, 2009 at his Vermont facilities featuring Irish Draught and Irish sport horses. Auditors are welcome at $15/day.

Welcome to the Horse Sense and Cents blog

Young and dumb can sometimes be a great asset when dealing with dangerous horse situations – particularly if it comes with a no fear mentality. Eventually, though, anyone who seems drawn to difficult horses over time – or feels they can save money by taking on a horse that has issues – logs enough injuries to happily prefer wisdom gained from the experience of others.

The Horse Sense and Cents™ notion comes from a lifetime of feeling compelled to learn lessons the hard way that finally gave way to a more mature perspective. Interestingly, the many horse training professionals involved in this project are quick to admit when they’ve been wrong, have chosen to adopt a more intuitive and careful approach to working with horses and have come to realize it’s a lot easier to learn from others’ successes – and failures. They’re wise and generous with their advice and can help you address easy issues and more dramatic cases.

If you’ve caught the horse bug in a big way and are ready to join a crowd that knows what they don’t know, you’ll have a lot of fun following this blog. Here you’ll find tips and stories to help you avoid some bruises and a whole lot of headaches and expense. Of course, anyone who’s been around knows you never stop learning on the horse front, so don’t expect formula answers that work in every case. We’re all here to discuss and share what’s worked for us and try to help you find ways to figure out what might be best for your horse.

We’ll start with five weekday posts and switch to a Tuesday and Thursday schedule once we get enough comments that keep us busy responding to reader questions and requests. In addition, we’ll let you know when particular professionals will be responding to reader comments so you can ask questions of those you’d most like to talk to when they are available.

We get that many who catch the horse bug aren’t wealthy and today, even the most established equine concerns are struggling, so we take the “Cents” part of our mission seriously. Creative, productive and budget-conscious tips will be offered every week. Let us know what you’re looking for and we’ll respond either as new posts or through the comment feature of this blog (which we hope to have up and running in the next two weeks – feel free to e-mail to questions @ HorseSenseandCents dot com in the meantime). If we don’t have the knowledge you need, we’ll try to find people who do.

This is a community designed for you – the horse owner, lover or professional who isn’t afraid to ask questions and seek help from others who have traveled the path before you.

We hope you decide to join a gang of equestrians determined to put their heads together so all can enjoy the ride!

Nanette Levin
Publisher of the Horse Sense and Cents book series