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Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a young mare named Zelli.

Zelli has been one of the most interesting horses I’ve known. As a foal, she had several medical conditions that made her early handling quite an unpleasant experience. Zelli was already a sensitive and intelligent filly and she quickly learned how to resist handling with rears, spins, or nips.

Zelli came to my farm hating pressure on her halter or anything near her mouth, she had never had her hooves handled or trimmed, and she had a big aversion to anyone on her left side.

For the trailer ride to my farm, Zelli had kindly been sedated, but after the drugs wore off and I tried to halter her in the stall I was met with both hind legs! I created a makeshift shoot from the stall to what would be Zelli’s new paddock and simply opened the stall door and let her find her way out.  This was the start of Zelli and I working together.

I started by just building a sort of friendship with Zelli in her field, hanging out near her, scratching her, and teaching her to take food rewards softly.

Then we started working on leading, just teaching her to go forwards and backwards with a light pressure from the halter, and then teaching her to step to the side for both right and left turns. At first, any halter pressure was met with vigorous head shaking and an occasional little rear, but I learned to let my arm just be dead weight, not fighting her attempts to escape the pressure but not allowing her a release either.

With frequent sessions and lots of rewards, Zelli seemed to begin to enjoy her training, although she would still have a tantrum now and then, letting us all know that she could still think for herself and “voice” her opinions. Zelli was also known for giving a squeal and a leap in the air when she felt frustrated or decided the training session should end.

Eventually Zelli began to lead easily, following just the movements of my body, and learned step by step the different responses and movements she needed to stay balanced on the lungeing circle.

Initially, any attempt to ask for trot would lead to a leap in the air and a charge forward, but after working on following the target stick into her transitions, Zelli learned to stay soft and trot slowly.

The concept of targeting also helped Zelli overcome her aversion to syringes, and taught her to walk and stand calmly into the trailer.

With time and consistency, she learned to pick up all four feet and allow her legs to be moved around and her hooves rasped.

Her balance and control of both her body and mind continue to improve, to the point where just recently we trusted each other enough that I climbed up on her back for the first time!

Through the last few months of working with Zelli, she’s learned a lot, but I’ve gained a few important lessons from her as well.

The first is to go slow and pay attention to the horse that day. Just because she could wear the saddle yesterday doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea to put it on today. Sometimes when an exercise just wasn’t working I had to override my Type A tendency to “just get it done” and go back to something easier. After all, it is always better to build on success.

The second lesson is to balance keeping training fun with “you’re just going to have to do this”.

I believe the key to any good relationship is balancing the needs of both individuals – how can I make this exercise fun and rewarding for the horse, while still setting appropriate boundaries (for example you can’t throw your head in the air and run off kicking when you think the session should end).

The third lesson from Zelli was that it’s important to accept the horse for who they are. I recently posted a video about different types of intelligence. I believe part of Zelli’s intelligence comes from her sensitivity.

While her sensitivity has its obvious drawbacks in that she can be reactive and jumpy, it is also part of what helps her learn quickly and notice subtle cues easily.

I think I haven’t been the only one learning from Zelli, as the members of Training Journals have also been enjoying her weekly update videos.

I wanted to share some of the best clips with you, so we’ve put together a video of Zelli’s work, from leading to trailer loading, the first time with tack up to the first time with a rider. You’ll also see my luck at dodging a few boisterous kicks (these were just the ones we caught on camera!)

Click Play below to watch the video.

If you’re interested in seeing more videos with Zelli and other training horses, Click Here for more information on Training Journals.


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55 Responses

  1. Training Journals has been invaluable for me in transitioning from a young rider to a mature re-rider responsible for training a special OTTB forever horse. I can’t begin to list the tips and information gleaned from Training Journals that are helping us on our journey.

  2. That was such an amazing learning video. Learning patience for me is the key.
    Wish you were closer to me here in Florida. Would love your assistance to help me with Logan. He is a great horse but just Needs the consistent direction of a good leader.

  3. Zelli seems to me like the horse equivalent of a Rainforest Mind ( My daughter is very similar, if I can compare her to a horse. Your comments about the different intelligences and her owner waiting for an hour to be able to give her medication without an extreme reaction made me think of it. Not really a horse training related comment 🙂

  4. Callie; I want to begin by saying how effective you are at explaining everything that you are teaching. You are training so much like I did 50 years ago…taking it slowly and methodically, thinking things through and “considering the horse”! As you go through life (picking the parts dealing with horse experiences) you will always learn different and sometimes better ways of obtaining the end result but more effectively and efficiently. When I have horses in training, I’ve discovered that many people cannot afford to pay $$$ per month for more than 1, 2, or maybe 3 months…especially if they have families, multiple horses (with pretty high maintenance fees) lessons, etc. My experiences and process of taking a horse from untrained to “kid ready/gentle” can now take 2 or 3 months (depending on the horse and past experiences it’s had), instead of 2 or 3 years….without changing the relationship between the horse and myself…and , if anything, it’s probably better. The horses I work with (and ones I’ve owned and shown myself) learn to become partners and enjoy the “dance” of unity both on the ground and under saddle. They are “light” in hand (taking about 2-5 days to achieve this), willing to learn, calm, easy to guide (soft and supple) and willing to please! I know this doesn’t sound possible, but I’ve found THE PROGRAM to follow that takes any person interested in doing their own training (or just wanting to improve their horsemanship skills) to get you to this same end…in months, NOT YEARS…so you have more time to ride and have fun without worrying about things going wrong. My Arabians (very sensitive and quick learners… I suspect like Zelli), could be asked to go through water, over obstacles, under the roof of a trailer and into this “box”, just by my asking because we practiced the necessary skill sets (like the 7 games of Parelli) to accomplish these tasks. Sometimes getting to the goal at the end isn’t always pretty (nor is it with any horse training program I’ve ever seen), but once these “7 games are learned the horse can do most any task without much, if any, resistance. I love working with owners who want to achieve a better relationship and improve their skills in my 8 week course (2 lessons per week). They do the “homework” with their horse/s in between the lessons shown & practiced in class. They are always excited with their results and go home with a better understanding of “horsemanship”.
    I would have gone straight to the round pen with Zelli where she would begin her “foundation”. Teaching her to pay attention, learning to go the direction you request, stopping or turning when you step to the left (if you’re circling left)so you’re in front of the drive line (withers), and reversing (even learning to do rollbacks), and coming in to you and “joining up” (Monty Roberts) term…for walking along with/beside you wherever you go! This is such an important step that should not be underestimated as to what it accomplishes… no room to mention all! Desensitizing is important, along with asking for the horse to “move its feet” where and at the speed you want (sensitizing) each in = doses.
    And, as far as head-shy problems…if you cannot move your hands at normal speed (revving up to fast speed)around the air space surrounding the horse’s ears, head, or nose or any body parts, then what makes you think you can go right to the body part. It’s so much easier to desensitize the air space around the horse first and wait until the feet are still and the horse is calm before removing the pressure (motion). I sincerely hope you give some of these methods a try and see if it cuts down on training time while still producing the same (if not more solid) results. If you have a chance to watch Clinton Anderson’s DVD of how he takes an off the track thoroughbred (Tricky Warrior) from high strung and going “into” pressure on the reins… to a soft, willing, calm (kids’ horse) in such a short time. I realize some folks are offended by his language (as am I!), but please do not discount his “method”…which can be modified if you think he “overdoes” sometimes (as I do think, too.) Take the good stuff and omit the other stuff…but let me say: His “Method” has shown to be very effective if done properly. Another great set of DVDs to watch training techniques are any of the productions of ROAD TO THE HORSE (taking a horse from un-trained to negotiating an obstacle course after only 2 days (approximately 4 hours) of working with them. We can all learn from the great teachers of the past: Ray Hunt, Tom Dorrance, Sally Swift, and the many great Dressage Instructors going back centuries.
    Callie, I hope you’ll get to the place where you no longer have to “tug of war” with a kicking or rearing horse…let out some of your 14 foot lead rope and “go with the (crazy actions) of the horse” and only “bump”to ask for 2 eyes!…to keep her facing you. When Zelli settles, move her on again to the task you were asking for. Doing lots of changes of directions on the longeline keeps her feet busy and her attention on you. Round penning prior to teaching longeing helps!
    I hope there are some useful tips in this page of knowledge I’m sending you and your clientele.

  5. Callie, As for the kicking behavior…I prefer to “stay out of KICKING range” if at all possible (another advantage of round penning without any attachment of you to the horse) especially for a rambunctious horse like Zelli. Round penning allows her to kick or rear or run like a race horse as much as she wants to without you being a target she can “hit” or hurt! I use a clinician’s 4 foot training stick with a 6 foot string (giving about a 12 foot safety zone (bubble) when you add the length of your arm) so I can reach her and keep her away if necessary. And you teach her NOT to KICK, rear, etc. by “moving her feet with HIGH energy when she’s naughty! Making the right thing easy (she can go around more slowly), and the wrong thing difficult (speed up those feet!).
    I would not teach leading until the horse is controllable on the longeline …which comes AFTER round penning. Both of these skills keeps you out of harms way. If you have her “walking with you” at the end of lesson 1 in the round pen, then after a few more sessions she shouldn’t have that mind set to want to kick out! Be sure to desensitize with the stick and string by “flogging with kindness” all over the horse so they never FEAR your tools! Hope this helps! This “mantra” of Make the right thing Easy and the wrong thing Difficult (by moving their feet forward, backward, left or right); and be as GENTLE AS POSSIBLE but as FIRM AS NECESSARY and REWARD THE SLIGHTEST TRY!.. IMMEDIATELY (so the horse understands what he/she did was the right answer)… is very sensible, effective, and used by almost all trainers in the western circles…I’m not sure it’s used in the world of dressage or hunter/jumper folks, but it certainly is effective in training any discipline! A horse is a horse!

    1. Just a quick note to you, Callie.
      I want you to stay SAFE at all times (thus my above suggestions) and one more (about you and Zelli).
      When taking a horse out of the trailer (stock type or slant load), the safest way to do this is to back the horse out. When you turn a horse around in the trailer, you put yourself in a position of getting smashed against the wall, or stepped on, or run over if the horse should panic.
      Of course, you need to make sure the horse knows how to back up when asked…and in both a step up or ramp trailer make sure the horse knows what to expect while backing before he goes all the way in. As you were doing….front feet in, front feet out, repeat several times. 3 feet in and out, repeat. But if the horse puts all 4 in instead of 3, just don’t let him go in too far… and back him out while he still remembers that he had to “step up” to get in. There’s nothing more difficult than trying to get a “fearful of backing out” horse to come out of a 2 horse straight load!!!! (I think it’s more difficult than teaching loading!) At least with a slant or a stock trailer you can turn the horse around if necessary, but please teach backing out for SAFETY…both yours and the horse’s.
      Judy Weinmann

      1. Hi Judy, most horses will turn themselves around in a stock trailer, they perfer to ride facing back. So many times it is easier to just walk them out and I like to teach the horses to unload both ways. Working in a trailer with a horse always has its dangers. I do my best to access each situation for what the horse needs to be comfortable with, needs to respond to, and then work with them in the safest way possible for both of us.

        1. My horse is smaller and I am almost always able to turn her to walk straight out of a slant load. I find this to be no problem. Now, for a larger horse, I could see where it might be a concern if the horse was rushing and not following your lead well. My horse also backs out well and understands if she goes slowly and listens for my cue to “step” that she knows when she has to step down. Still, we both prefer to go straight out if possible.

    2. Hi Judy, I worked with Zelli for about two weeks loose before haltering her. Please understand that this short video was not designed to be a tutorial but more of a “highlight” real. At some point in training the halter needs to go on and old responses (jumping around and kicking out) do occasionally come back – I handle them the best I can in the moment to try to keep me and myself safe. I share the ideal of working with a long lead, but in reacting to an “episode” I do still often find a sharp bump on the halter can interrupt the behavior. As for timing, most horses I am able to move through the basic responses much more quickly. But for those that need more time, I give them more time. People are no different, some of us take longer to learn than others, whether that is learning a new task, becoming comfortable in a new situation, or processing past events. I am very cautious about definite timelines in training. It’s ok to have averages but I don’t feel it is appropriate to hold every horse to the same chronological standard. I have also re-trained several horses that were rushed along in “colt starting” programs and came out rideable but tense and missing fundamentals. I actually am much more drawn to classical training of young horses that uses months of lungeing, long lining, and in hand work before riding.

      1. So well said. I know I am a slow learner and I am a visual learner. I also know there are some things that for both myself and my horse are much easier than other things for us to learn.

  6. Thank you so much for this Callie. I’m in my 50s and only started riding a couple of years ago (I road a bit when I was 10 or 11) twice a week training in dressage. I love it. The horses I have been training on belong to my trainer (and friend) and all are Friesian mares. Learning has been fun and rewarding for me more than I can say. I was happy to stay exactly there until Christmas when my husband surprised me with a 1.5 year old Friesian filly chosen by the trainer and imported from Holland. She is a blank sheet so to speak!! Now I am hungry to learn all I can about training her. I work with her in the paddock just getting her used to me and being touched. I also have been taking her into the riding arena where I let her loose then let her come back to me then walk her on a lead and am starting to do small things like stepping to the side or moving back. She is smart and sweet and also quite opinionated, but willing to learn. I enjoyed your video clips of Zelli (do you know that ‘zeli’ – with one ‘l’ means ‘cabbage’ in Czech?) because I saw a bit of what I am now going through (no kicks so far, thank you!) with my Willow. Would you recommend your Training Journals for someone in my situation? Again, thank you. I love ALL of your videos and so appreciate your soft but firm manner of working with horses.

  7. I love your teaching style. Everything you do is based on logic and makes sense to me. I’ve been sharing your training with others that I feel could benefit.
    I’m a relatively new rider and a senior rider. I rode off and on most of my life but never owned my own horse. I now have a 17.3 Dutch Warm Blood. 16 years old but well mannered for the most part.
    He’s a retired jumper but very spooky and sensitive. However, we are progressing with a very good trainer. I haven’t shared with my trainer that the improvements I’ve made are credited with your videos. I’m going to tell her soon and hope she will not be offended. LOL
    I just want to share my gratitude for all your help.
    Many thanks

  8. I have watched quite a few videos (no, I don’t ride, but I did some 30 years ago). As I often use horse an riding ‘thinking’ into my everyday life it’s natural to do that with your videos too.

    On sentence has stayed in my mind more than any other, the one about not trying to stop the horse from unwanted behavior but instead I’m for what one want the horse to perform (like walking forward instead of pulling away to graze).

    That also bring to mind that in some cultures (Inuit’s?) the parents never say no, the distract instead.

    That, and the calm, consistent and persistent handling is something I happily take with me.

    Thank you

    1. Birgetta; I’m glad you mentioned: that instead of trying to stop the horse from doing something that’s unwanted, simply change his mind by distracting; giving him/her a specific job to do.
      I wonder if the people in the cultures (Inuit’s?) that you mentioned use this on horses as well as children….should be equally effective on both!
      “Moving the horse’s feet” in the direction and /or speed YOU choose is another way of looking at it.

  9. Really love to see thoughtful and planned training/progression of a horse! It really makes a difference in the relationship. My Savannah was similar in history to Zelli. She is such a gem. Love her. Thanks, Callie!

  10. Hi Callie
    I think that you did a great job with that horse.I’m sure there were lots of exciting times with her .l have a very sensitive horse myself. I got him when he was young around 4 also didn’t know much about his background but ground manners where great.Anyway I liked the point training that you did with the syringe great idea but how did you get her to let you stay on her right side my boy has a hard time staying on my left side I know he looses his balance on this side but I am working very slowly he’s 8 now and much softer .He used to drag me around in the beginning so I know what it means and how to listen to my horse.I still have a hard time with stopping the exercise when I’m really getting through to him glad that you are showing equartarians and trainers that horses have a brain if you just take the time to look and listen thanks again Susan

    1. Susan, it’s very common for horses to be less responsive when you are on their right side …because that is the side from which we usually don’t halter them, don’t lead them, don’t tack them or mount up to ride them, so the horse seems less balanced, more “antsy” more fearful, etc. when we are on their off (right) side. Try to do more longeing to the right (clockwise) which puts you on his right side (where he sees you with his right eye), try spending more time leading, tacking, mounting (they always seem 3 inches taller on this side! Ha Ha), and desensitizing on the horse’s “not so good” side. Sorry, reverse all this if you meant the horse’s left side, but your comment said: that he doesn’t like staying on YOUR left side…which is HIS right side if you are leading him forward or trying to ask him to go forward around you. Continued good luck with your gelding! Sounds like you’ve come a long way. P.S. if you are having this problem when longeing try to keep yourself behind his withers (where the girth would be)…if you get ahead of this spot when longeing, he will naturally try to slow down, or stop and maybe try to face you.

  11. Short question that would probably take 20+ years of experience and 10 volumes to answer from a VERY “New guy” (4 lessons):
    How do I know when a horse IS dangerous or is on the verge of BECOMING dangerous?

    I “Speak Canine” and can also read their body language, eyes, eye-lids, head carriage and movements, weight distribution, paw placement, their tails and ears, respiration. I can teach a dog to do anything. (One of my Malinois wants to learn to use the computer but I can’t find a keyboard to fit his paws…….wink)

    Horses baffle me.
    Any transfer of “Canine lingo” to horses? What signs do I look for?
    A 12-14 year old mare was OK with me as long as a woman was near or in the stall with me. I tried to go in her stall alone one day and she wheeled and aimed both back legs at me, even I understood that maneuver. Another time, the woman left and the old mare tried to bite me. Obviously, she had very negative experiences with a man previously. In both incidents I was taken COMPLETLY by surprise. It was my ignorance and failure to read the horse.

    How can I “read” horses and “Speak Equine” the way I do canines?
    How do horses decide who they can intimidate?
    Can prey animal horses “smell fear” , as some people claim canines and other predators can.

    1. Jingo,
      You are so correct that horses have specific body language to learn and work with. Several research papers exist that can be found on PLOSone regarding your question, you might search Horse Grimace Scale, and Horses and Depression. There are courses you could take as well through IAABC. The difficulty exists with horses (and dogs) that have experienced punishment for their honesty. In my understanding, any horse (or dog) who has experienced something they perceived to be punishing for communication of their concern, i.e.wrinkling up their noses, tightening their cheeks, pinning their ears, swinging their hips, (or in the case of dogs, growling, baring teeth) has learned to hide or escalate their warning signals. The problem is that if they haven’t learned and been supported into feeling better about the trigger that precedes the behavior. Ignoring their perception of the trigger often leads to an outcome which becomes worse over time. It is kind of like taking the batteries out of the smoke alarm but leaving the stove on. You (through no fault of your own) are the “fire on the stove”. The woman’s presence either comforts the horse or suppresses the honest behaviors this horse has learned about men. Participating in a process of building positive associations with this mare and yourself over time can help as will NOT trying to tackle the problem behaviors in one major absolute event.

      1. Hi Hilary!
        Thank you for the sources!
        I think I have “Horse Fever”! My ‘Horse Info’ favorites is taking over my computer!
        I searched PLOS One + horse and came up with this juicy tidbit:
        “…we investigated in horses whether variation in the expression of eye wrinkles caused by contraction of the inner eyebrow raiser reflects emotional valence….” (I was alluding to similar facts in my post.) THAT is the sort of thing I have observed with my canines since I was a toddler. My dogs were my brothers and I learned to “read” them as well as decipher their vocalizations………horses………still baffle me…. but I am coming along. I seriously believe it is the affinity one predator (Human) has for another (Canine) and the disconnect with a prey animal at the root of my temporary bafflement. If horses had been my brothers also I would “get” them as well as I do canines. I envy people who grew up with horses.

        Later today, I will study the ” Horse Grimace Scale” in detail and look into the IAABC courses you suggest and go to my favorite bookstore (Tattered Cover) and order the titles Judy suggested as well.

  12. Hi, Jingo;
    I would highly recommend this great book written by Dr. Robert M. Miller titled: Natural Horsemanship Explained :from Heart to Hands. You could probably find it on and pick up a used copy for maybe less than one dollar (plus $3.99 shipping!) Examples of some chapter titles are:The Mind/Feet Connection; The Key to Leadership; Horses are not afraid of Predators; Desensitization; Understanding Reinforcement; Things we don’t fully Understand…some of the 25 chapters in this book of only 178 pages. One of the absolute best books on getting to “know horses” and “horse behavior” that I’ve read…and I have read hundreds in my 70 years of life. It does go into body language which is not comparable so much to dogs because horses are prey animals and dogs are predators (like us)…predators’ eyes are in front and prey animals’ eyes are on the side, which allows them almost a 360 degree view of their surroundings without moving their head! Horses have monocular vision (can see out of each eye separately (watch channel 4 on TV with right eye and channel 6 with left eye!) Put your fist up against your upper nose/forehead between your eyes to get a sampling of how a horse sees compared to how we see (and dogs). With you other hand put your pointer finger straight up and move this finger from one side to the other out in front of your closed fist hand and face. Do you see the blind spot where your finger disappears? Important to know this because it helps us better understand why horses can be “jumpy” or shy at things…things can appear to come out of nowhere… objects can be on one side, then seemingly “jump” to the other! Explanations of things like this (monocular vision…I made up this little test) are in this book so that a person handling a horse can better understand why horses do the things they do! By the way, when you train or work with a horse you are really working with 2 horses…Lefty and Righty. You must train each side of the horse until he is accepting of whatever it is you are teaching on their left side AND their right side! That’s why it’s important to know about “monocular” vision! Anyway, this is a WONDERFUL and well written (easy to read and understand) publication that I highly recommend! Every person interested in working/riding horses should be required to read this book before they even get a horse! That’s how great I think it is. To answer your question of “Can horses smell fear?”…not sure if they smell fear (they do have a keen sense of smell), but I Do KNOW that “they know IF a person “knows”, and they know IF a person “doesn’t know” AND they Can make this assessment within 5 to 15 minutes of you being around or with them! That’s why it’s so important to learn about horse behavior. It’s important because horses are BIG,STRONG animals with pretty good brains! A horseman/woman needs enough skill in “reading horses” to convince them that THEY KNOW. Then the horse will be respectful of them and his /her wishes. People see a trainer work with their horse and wonder why they cannot do the same skills with their horse that the trainer just demonstrated…reason is “with experience” you gain the skill to communicate your wishes to the horse and have his/her respect & attention. You can get “papers” with a horse, but the horse doesn’t come with “respect” for everyone…You must earn respect!
    Good luck with your endeavor of “getting along with horses!” I hope you’ll check out this book. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

  13. Hi Callie, Fabulous video and I loved Zelli doing a circle without a lunge line – what trust.
    My only observation, in your trailer training, is that we would never tie a horse to anything but some baler twine so it can snap if the horse pulls back. Do you do this in the States too? The risk to horse’s neck jarring severely by being tied to something solid is what we teach students here. We would probably leave trailer in the field with haynet or nuts in it and have the doors open front and back so they can walk through.
    Thought Zellie a lovely mare and your gentle handling of her is inspirational.

    1. Hi Pippa, that is a great idea to tie to baker twine… I am always careful not to tie in a trailer that is open where the horse can back out as I have also witnessed a few accidents this way. I started the same way, with the trailer in the field just feeding her out of the back. This trailer is not safe to open up where the horse could walk through but I agree that this passive desensitization is a great way to start with the trailer.

      1. We always tie to bailer twine in our outdoor tack area and pole barn for tacking up and during feeding times. (We have several horses.) That way if anyone gets spooked they can break free and not get harmed. We also use it in the trailer and out side when we tie to the trailer to tack up. We use it when we travel to tie the horses for tacking to trees, posts or whatever is available – less likely to cause damage to horse or property. We just save the twine off the hay bails- always available and cheap!

        1. Shanna, It’s something almost compulsorily taught in the uk, at pony club and riding clubs. Baler twine will break. I always tie the baler twine to a ring so I can pull the lead rope through faster for an emergency untie, and if the horse pulls back he breaks the twine. Being able to untie a horse quickly is almost as important as what you tie them to. I teach riding for the disabled so have to be very safety conscious.

          1. Guess that rubbed off on my instructor! We always use twine for safety and I have seen it work many times.

      2. I knew you’d be ahead of the game! Very interesting comments being posted here. I like the one about teaching a horse to ‘go back’. It’s a good lesson here in the UK as some trailers don’t have front doors and horses have to learn to back straight out being pushed by the owner or there is a panic.
        Love your videos, Callie, thank you so much.

  14. Thank you for sharing this video. I am interested in learning about targeting. I have not heard of that before with horses. I appreciate the way you explain what you do. It is very understandable. That is a gift.

  15. Hi Judy! thanks for the book title. I have read hundreds of hours and watched hundreds of hours about horses…(Callie IS THE BEST!!!!!) …..and will continue to do so until I think/feel I am ready to accept the responsibility of stewardship. In my study, I arrived at the same conclusion you state: Horses are prey and we are predator. I have a natural understanding and empathy with the predator mind of my canines……we think alike.
    Horses seem “goofy-dangerous” to me because of their prey mentality. ANY 1,000 pound animal wearing steel boxing gloves is a force to be handled with respect, caution, patience, knowledge, and EXPERIENCE. I have the first four elements on the way; experience takes time.
    PS: I think the old mare school horse had my number in about 10 SECONDS hahah By the end of the 4th lesson we were starting to get along.

    (Random thought: Imagine a 1,000 pound Gerbil or Rabbit! Even they would become a force to be reckoned with if not handled with respect and caution.)

    1. Jingo…I love your humor!…as I pictured the 1000 lb. gerbil and rabbit in my head. I hope you’ll invest another few hours in this book by Dr. Robert Miller. It’s an easy read and its 178 pages go quickly (it’s a small book, too. the pages are roughly 5 inches by 9 inches.) If it’s a blustery rainy day, you could stay in with your book and a hot cup of cocoa and finish the book before the rain quits.
      P.S. I think mares are generally quicker to pick up on things since their natural instinct is to protect their young…they are VERY aware of everything. Geldings….not so much! But, of course there are always exceptions!
      Judy Weinmann

      1. Hi Judy!
        I read about Dr. Robert Miller and his work. I am sure I will become an acolyte of his. I order his books today.

  16. I have been spending a lot of time ground training and “truck training” with my girl, Wildfire. It has been so rewarding for both us us. I have learned to recognize when she gets stressed trying to figure out the new trick we are working on and how to gently push her through it. She has so much expression and it is so fun to watch her get excited when she figures it out.
    I totally understand what you mean about day to day expectations. We work on something and she’ll be doing it so well. Then the next time it might be like she’s never done it before! Other times she’s so anxious to show me what she can do that she is anticipating and just randomly doing tricks for me!
    Just this week we got her to lay down. It was quite a challenge until she understood what we wanted, but once she was down it was so awesome to see how much trust she had in me and how quickly she laid down the second try. Can’t wait to see how it goes next time.
    Thanks for the weekly blogs- I always enjoy them.

  17. Shanna;
    Sounds like you’re really having a great time with Wildfire and “tricks”! You might not even need help, but if you keep running into this inconsistency it may be that you’re quitting a little too early. My suggestion would be to try and get more than ONE correct response before quitting the skill. Now, don’t get me wrong…I don’t mean do it over and over and over until the horse quits on you! This is one of the things I’ve modified when I use Clinton Anderson’s Techniques…If you’ve read some of my “posts” you know I like his philosophy and “method” but I modify to fit my style with my Arabians or other sensitive “quick learner” type horses. I find that if you do the same thing over and over too much, the horse begins thinking she got it wrong (note, I said SHE because I also think geldings can take more repetitions than mares (generally speaking)and she starts to change how she responds to you because (in her mind) she’s trying hard to please you and get it right. Try to use your good judgement as to when you think she really has it and really give her a BIG reward of praise, rest, a nice rub (and a treat if you are clicker training). The BIGGEST reward should be the first time and the last time she does the skill pretty well for that session. I find that it gets pretty solidified after 3 to 5 repetitions but every horse is different. Also, don’t expect perfection the first day and the first time she does the skill).
    Spend at least 3 CONSECUTIVE DAYS to help with solidifying a skill. If you don’t get around to repeating the new skill until 2, 3, or more days down the road, there’s more of a chance she will not remember the skill very well. Hope this helps. But as I said, you sound like it’s going pretty well now!

    1. Judy- I always train Wildfire in steps, building from the prior step. I repeat new “tricks” enough to reinforce them without reaching the point of boredom. And I make sure I end on a positive. We used Clinton Anderson’s method to lay Fire down. Any inconsistencies in her training are related to my crazy work schedule and not her ability. She learns amazingly well despite my schedule.

  18. I love how you proceed with training while preserving the horse’s emotional state and therefore dignity. That quality of taking the time it takes seems to build a stronger foundation. Will work at emulating this path with my geldings who have also experienced trouble in their past. Zelli is a beautiful filly; very nice job with her.

  19. Judy, I think you are missing the point of Callie’s approach which is one that is for everyone, those who don’t have a round pen, new and old owners with no horse sense, those with only a short time to spare with their horse now and again, and those who prefer to depend on scientific method with thorough understanding of “first principles” and repeatability.
    Her methods meet the needs of these many divergent groups , which is why her courses are attracting attention. It is an approach that has been long-awaited.

    1. I agree. I think you miss the point of Callie’s teaching style.
      It seems, Judy, that you have perfected your own perfect method. I find it a bit disturbing you seem to feel the need to take over this blog because Callie’s teaching style doesn’t match yours.
      I for one have learned so much from Callie’s instructional videos and courses. I love her behavioral insights and how it influences in her teaching style. I find Callie’s approach very refreshing because it IS different and because she is willing to show ALL the steps and progress along the way in training a horse, including the trials along the way. There is always going to be a glitch here and there in training a horse. Callie is not afraid to acknowledge this and show us how to handle the glitches.
      I find Callie’s method is empowering. It makes me feel like, “I CAN do this!” I find so many other instructors and big names in horsemanship intimidating, but not Callie. Keep on teaching just like you have been Callie- that’s why we love you.

      1. Thank goodness you spoke up, Shanna. I was getting quite frustrated wondering why Judy was on here correcting Callie’s suggestions, offering Clinton Anderson material as well as a host of her own advice. Not the place! Perhaps Judy can start her own website and gain a following there. This site is for CRK people who love Callie’s approach. Thank you for providing this video on Zelli, Callie. Very wonderful to see Zelli come along so well, considering her history and rocky start in life.

      2. Thank you Shanna for setting the record straight. I was about to ask Callie if Judy was her employee.
        Judy, if you’re reading this, the people commenting here and following Callie’s teaching are looking for just that – Callie’s teaching. While some may find your input valuable that may well be an indication to run your own page. For me, your comments serve to muddy the waters and detract from Callie’s most valuable information, which is the reason I follow this page.

        1. I have twice apologized to Callie and would like to give a sincere apology to all of you who have shown your objections about my “getting carried away” with comments. You all saw what I didn’t until you brought it to my attention (thank you for “hitting me upside the head!”) I sincerely apologize to you and I will not be getting so involved from now on….because YES, this is Callie’s Training Blog, not mine! At the time, I did not see that I was giving WAY too much information in my comments.
          Callie, I cannot apologize enough for not seeing this. Again, I apologize to you and your dedicated and loving followers!
          In my mind, the more knowledge one has for trying to teach a skill, the more tools (ideas) you have ” at your disposal” to help you achieve success. I get your messages and definitely will limit my comments to short, succinct ones. Forgive me if I offer an idea (suggestion) that you might want to try… or not, if you find yourself “stuck”. Sometimes another way of doing it might just “click” for the horse and/or you.
          I have much admiration for you, Callie and praise to you… and all of your followers for your sharing, dedication, hard work and love of horses! To everyone; enjoy your horse/s and stay safe!

          1. Hi Judy, thank you! You are a valued member of our community here and I know you have still provided a lot of value to others in many of your comments!

  20. As always, thank you Callie for your empathetic approach to training. I am a member of Training Journals and will continue to be. MANY THANKS!!!!!
    -Brooks and Blanco

  21. Hi Callie, I am in the process of starting to float train my boy , although he has been floated before but not since I’ve had him (18 months). I am interested to learn more about the ‘target’ technique you showed with this horse in the float (apologies if this isn’t the correct term!).. Are you able to direct me to the compete video or have you posted a session on this in the past? Thank you!

  22. Hey Callie,
    I can’t help but see the beautiful bond you and Zelli have, I’m sure it was very hard for both of you to have her head home.
    I so wish you were closer and could help me with my boy Storm. Many of Zelli’s qualities and resistance to certain things are very familiar to me with Storm. I’ll be sure to watch all the episodes of you and Zelli in the training journals.
    Again, great video and thanks for putting together such great informative video’s.
    AB, Canada

    1. Kristy, luckily Zelli has a great owner who takes fantastic care of her! I’m glad you were able to see some similarities between your horse and Zelli and hopefully get some good ideas to work with your horse. There is quite a collection of Zelli videos in Training Journals, definitely check them out 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  23. Hi Callie, I have a question.. do you get scared when you’re dealing with a more headstrong horse such as Zellie? There are a couple of lesson horses that I ride at my barn that bite really hard when tacking up and/or try to kick when you’re grooming.
    I find that because of instances where they’ve either bitten me or almost kicked me I’m scared to be around them..I know that when you’re nervous the horse feels it but I just have no idea how to get over that nervous feeling of being around them. And that translates over when I’m riding. Any tips or suggestions? Does that semi-scared feeling go away with time? I’ve only been riding about a year and a half

    1. Vanessa, I think there is an important distinction to make between the school horses and Zelli. Zelli came to us a young horse that just didn’t really know that much about how to be around people and also had to handled quite a bit as a foal due to a medical problem so she had developed bad behaviors from that.

      I think you are not wrong to feel scared or unsure about the horses that are bitting and kicking from the ground before you climb on their backs, the relationship that we have on the ground absolutely transfers to our under saddle work. I would be concerned about why the horses are having such big reactions this tacking and grooming that there could be some discomfort on their end which in that case wouldn’t be their fault!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

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