Dwell Time - Improving the Halt
Horse Training Tip:
Dwell Time - Improving the halt
Allowing your horse to rest is a great way to reward them for a good halt.
Traditional horsemen call this "dwell time".
This technique is particularly effective as a reward for any physically challenging task.
It allows the horse to rest their muscles and more importantly, to send more fresh oxygenated blood to the brain, to allow them to develop new neural pathways.
This is even more effective if you actually get off the horse and allow it to rest.
Many riders can not even imagine the idea of getting off the horse during a training session.
They want to ‘work” the horse for a certain time period and then put the horse away. This type of training may certainly develop the horses muscles, but it may take much longer to actually develop the horses brain.
Having worked in high class dressage and jumping stables I know that in these situations, there are a certain number of horses to be worked in a day and that it is hard enough to get them all worked.
You may achieve training “results” with horses in these situations, but the relationship that develops when more time is spent with each horse as an individual is far more rewarding.
It does not take long to stop and stand for a few minutes when the horse responds really well to something. One of the best rewards for a horse is to actually get off them! This is hard for riders to hear and understand. Many people think, theiry horse “loves” being ridden. Horses generally don’t love having a predator sitting on their back. Then having to work hard run around in circles while the predator yanks them in the mouth, bounces on their back, digs them in the ribs with spurs and even whips them.
That may sound extreme. Some people think that their horse loves being ridden because their horse gets excited and jigs and prances when they are going out for a ride. This type of behaviour actually indicates that the horse is anxious and worried.
Putting human thoughts, feelings, actions, emotions and behaviours onto a horse to try and interpret their behaviour and thoughts demonstrates a lack of understanding of the equine species.
Horses are really very simple, they are “happy” when they are eating, resting, sleeping, socializing and mating. We can tell this because they will voluntarily do these behaviours. Their very survival depends on them seeking out and enjoying these behaviours.
We want the horse to enjoy being ridden and trained as much as possible. We also want to achieve our goals with the horse. We can combine these by giving the horse what it wants when it does what we want.
Making a horse stand still, if it wants to move will not be a reward. Similarly making the horse move when it wants to stand still will not be a reward. Learn to figure out what is motivating the horse in that moment. What does the horse want right now. Then it will be easy to use that as motivation or a reward when the horse does what you want.