By Undine Korn
In December 2010 the time was finally there when – after searching for months – I had found my dream horse: the 5-year-old PRE-stallion Portos, just started under saddle and ready for big deeds.
After getting used to his new barn he received the nickname Prince Portos and I treated him accordingly.
I had 30 years of experience with own horses, had dealt with bitchy mares and stubborn geldings, my Andalusian gelding knows some tricks, I knew how to do work-in-hand and thought: “Well, it can’t be so different with a stallion.”
Grooming and riding were no problem, but when I had to lead him two worlds collided and chaos ensued. As soon as I was at his shoulder he became naughty, bit the reins or even my arm if I was not fast enough to duck away. Attack was the word – and the one who was faster would be the winner. And most of the time it was not me…
I got a lot of tips and advice during that time.
I knew very well how the leadership issue should look like and who was supposed to be the leader, and who ought to follow. But the reality unfortunately looked quite different.
When Caro watched us work, she commented succinctly: “Since you guys can’t find a common line on who should be the leader, you change back and forth and sometimes neither of you knows who is on at the time.”
And this was when Caro took it over to lead us.
In the first lesson Caro and Portos stood opposite each other hissing at each other.
I had seen hissing stallions on TV, but hissing trainers was a new experience for me.
Her statement that you should never back up if he ever goes towards you rearing, because if you do you lose- was at the same time very clear, easily understood but frightening.
In the meantime the three of us are a super team. After some sessions of consistent training and training to lead our program now focusses on work-in-hand and circensic exercises. My prince now does the compliment, lies down on command, carries the whip and follows me nicely.
Off course in between he does ask whether he could take on the lead, but I know how to handle this thanks to Caros help.
I have learned that I need to show my horse that I can be strong and consistent enough to take on responsibility for both of us, so that his job is in peace and with a calm attitude to earn his cookies.
Hannover June 2012
Von Kerstin de Vries
My Friesian stallion and me got along just fine…
sort of. Almost always. But unfortunately not really always and definitely not in every situation. Because…he is actually a little bit of a scaredy cat, and a stallion, and a little bit of a buffalo, but sometimes he is not really very respectful.
I always was consistent in his handling – at least that is what I thought. But why should I have a problem with dominance? I did not have an answer to this one, but the prancing 600 kilo when leading him was not really comfortable, especially when I felt like I was going to be run over.
I had to do something – urgently, because having fun during the daily handling was something that was happening less and less.
Then Carolin came into the picture and offered to teach us circensic lessons. Oh well, I had always wanted to learn that but it had never been a high priority for me. Then the first inkling: Carolin also does behavioural training and circus lessons do have an effect on ranking order. That is when I decided to try this out – at least it wouldn’t hurt.
After the initial training it became crystal clear: I do have a problem with dominance issues! And being consistent is nice and dandy but it doesn’t help anything if I am consistent in the wrong areas. So then I learned from Carolin how horses think, and why my Friesian up to then just could not take me really seriously.
I also learned that real dominance over a horse does not involve any violence or suppression. Rather I learned that a horse needs a more dominant partner to feel safe… and that just a few lessons in behavioural training in the indoor arena do have a positive effect on the entire handling of the horse.
And I learn how it works! I learn what I have to do to be understood and respected by my horse. The horse begins to relax in my presence because he knows that I take care of him. He doesn’t run me ove anymore (because this is something horses don’t do to the herd boss either),
And he still likes me, despite that or may be because of it.
I am learning to communicate with my horse….
The results Carolin was able to accomplish with us in a very short time are phenomenal to me. Carolin has the ability to teach a topic in such a straight-forward, easy and logical way that afterwards you ask yourself how could even get along with your horse at all before that.
Well, our horses are truly patient with us. Sometimes they are too patient with us, because if they weren’t a lot of more riders would deal with this topic sooner and more thoroughly.
How relaxing are my afternoons at the barn now…
Carolin I thank you for your help, your patience and the basic lessons in ‘horsey language’. I am looking forward to ‘horsey for advanced learners’ and many new and wonderful insights.
Kerstin de Vries
Von Jana Theobald
It is now almost 4 ½ years ago that my then 8-year-old daughter fell in love with the Icelandic gelding Skoll who was owned by the owner of our barn. She begged so intensely that we asked whether we could start taking care of the horse.
But what to do then with an extremely over-weight, badly behaved 5-year-old Icelandic horse, that only knew one gait- the pace – no matter which tempo? I was out of depth there.
Happily Skoll got a new partner for his open stall, Caro’s Icelandic mare Hrina and with it came Caro as a trainer, who showed to Skoll in a friendly but clear and consistent manner how a pony needs to behave. She regularly gave lessons to my daughter Kira. And this was not always easy, since Skoll is everything but a children’s pony.
I do remember rather well when Skoll did exactly what Skoll wanted. It was a daily occurrence that he pulled away from my daughter and ran out of the arena as soon as somebody opened the gate. He basically always did the exact opposite of what we wanted to accomplish at the time.
But soon the first successes became visible – Skoll learned to use other gaits beside the pace and it got easier to handle him. We put a lot of work into teaching him good manners and it paid off.
In the meantime we bought the horse. He and Kira have grown together to a real team and Skoll actually developed into a five-gaited Icelandic horse. We all have a lot of fun with him.
We do circus lessons with him and he already knows how to lie down, how to do the compliment and other commands such as carrying things upon command.
We have become friends with Caro in the meantime but still book lessons with her – either for riding or for doing circensic work.