Often, when I am riding my horses on the trail, it begins to rain. I carry a raincoat in my saddle bag or tied to the back of my saddle. Zum needs to see a raincoat ahead of the time I have to put one on so that he isn’t afraid of raincoats. Zum has never seen a raincoat before.


Horse trainers cannot bludgeon a horse into obedience to get good results. I have seen horse trainers do this and it doesn’t work. Instead, I put Zum in a position where he will respond mentally and physically with the desired response. Then I reward Zum for responding correctly. If Zum isn’t responding correctly, I need to listen to him so I can figure out how to vary my request so he understands me.


If Zum does what I ask, I know I can continue what I am doing and make progress. If Zum doesn’t do what I ask, I need to back up and try to do something I know Zum will do willingly to praise him!


I have learned that the big secret of expert horsemanship is listening to what the horse says. I need to know what Zum is going to do next so I can discourage it or encourage it. I always need to listen to Zum!


Zum will crowd me and try to step on me sometimes when I lead him with his lead rope. I cannot let him do this but if I push him out of my way or yell at him unjustly, he will get angry with me. I have learned that I cannot teach an angry colt anything until he relaxes. So I immediately get Zum to do something I can praise him for so he can relax.


When Zum’s head is high and his ears are forward with alert eyes, I know he is feeling smart, direct-minded and willing!


I always make sure that my major goal of keeping Zum’s attitude respectful and cooperative is never lost just to achieve an objective goal. I never sacrifice Zum’s willing attitude simply for a performance accomplishment. If I keep Zum’s trust in me as the priority, I am always amazed at how Zum gradually accepts something like a scary balloon!


When I am riding a horse on the trail, I often see a balloon stuck in a tree or cactus. When I am riding in a neighborhood, I see that people often tie balloons on posts or mailboxes to signal a special event. Zum needs to learn to stay calm even around strange blowing objects like balloons. Zum has never seen a balloon before! When I introduced Zum to a balloon, he was jumpy and uneasy!


Even if Zum doesn’t do what I ultimately want, I reward him each time he tries. There is body language that I can use that rewards him for his attempt to get it right. I back away from him, step to the side or look down. If I don’t reward him through yielding, I kill Zum’s incentive to comply. Even the slightest hint of Zum trying to do what I request is reason for me to reward him with a release of pressure. This is my yield of respect to Zum.