In the US, this type of training is more accepted among trainers and owners than in the EU.
When the owner of a ranch I worked at, was asked by a friend how to deal with a new horse that isn't used to being around people much and help it become a family horse, her answer was "train him".
Time went by and the friend asked again what to do, because no matter what she did the horse didn't seem to be as accepting of everything like she had experienced from the horses at the ranch. So again, the owner said: Train him. But don't train him like you do the average horse; don't work him in the round pen, of have him go on for miles out on the trail to become bonded. Instead she suggested 'Family Training'.
Consisting of hanging around with us, learning new things and exploring together, letting them observe us and vice versa, including them in our routines, Family Training makes a difference to any horse. It doesn't just benefit your training or performance, it benefits the horse. They feel included, cared for and loved. By doing these simple, mundane tasks we actively express that we do care for and love them. And this achievement spreads through both horse and human, no matter where they are or what they are doing. Because the bond is there.
It is a great reminder of how it's more important to invest in being with our horses, than just training them.
Zoë van Mourik | Equine Trauma & Behavior Specialist
www.zoevanmourik.com & www.houseofhorsemanship.nl
Zoë van Mourik: Equine Trauma Specialist, Behaviorist