Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mustang A Day Challenge Painting # 298 Megan Jones' Nevada

4 by 6 inches  Watercolor
by Linda L Martin Artist
Megan sent me some amazing photos documenting the training of her Mustang Nevada. I suppose I could have done a traditional head portrait of him. But I was thinking back to my younger years with my own black horse and sitting in the pasture while he grazed just being together.

Its more amazing when you think that this beauty of a black horse with his white blaze was wild and has had less than 18 months of training when he arrived at Megan's home.

Megan adopted Nevada at the CSU Mustang makeover in 2010. He had been aged at 4 years by the BLM but seemed younger to her. From Megan's Facebook Page: " I can't say enough Good things about Steve, the trainer that took him on for the EMM(Extreme Mustang Makeover). He is like no other horse I've ever worked with . He (Nevada) stepped up on this obstacle the very first time I asked him to . He's just incredible ."

When I was a child they were still force breaking wild horses. Gosh, they were force breaking almost every horse. And some of them were so scared that they were never safe to ride. Others were so severely injured that there was nothing left for them but to be put down. Some grew to hate people and would literally fight to the death rather than submit. It was a rough time for horses and for the people that tried to "break" them. Breaking is pretty much what they did, too. Bones and spirit of both the men and the horses is some sort of conquering war that enslaved the animals until they were useless, in some cases, and the men so crippled they were useless too.
 In the 1970s the University of Maryland began an experiment that would eventually revolutionize training for those who accepted it. It was, at that time, called trackless training or gentling behavior modification. Those of us who adapted the method to use in training were not generally accepted for using it.. But the horses learned quickly to trust and to follow. Those horses that the method were applied to were very safe mounts, in my experience. Trainers that used it also were ridiculed and harassed for using the methods.. as "it was for circus horses and trick ponies" the critics said. When I experimented with it I discovered that you could start the babies young. It was unheard of for a whole farm of young horses in training to never learn to buck. No horse I worked with at the time did after being handled gently and constantly using the method.

Now this new breed of young trainers is amazing. The first day off the trailer and less than an hour on the ground these new gentle trainers  reach out their hands to wild horses, not to dominate them but to gain their trust. Trainers that are leaders to the horses, in both movement and language that the wild ones understand from being on the range and running with a herd. This new breed of Mustang trainers capitalize on the wild horses' experience from the beginning life when they heard their dam's first wicker and nuzzled their side for nourishment, to follow a leader..

Nevada in full tack on the
obsitical Course. Photo
Courtesy Megan Jones
There are many philosophies for the new more effective training methods, even many variations. Most of these accomplished  Modern Mustang trainers make a relationship to the horse that does amazing things in a very short time. Sometimes its as short as 60 to 90 days to start a green horse. And the really successful trainers know that they do not limit themselves to one training method or philosophy, but use what ever the horse they are working with needs to accomplish willingly what needs to be done, because of that trust. It all comes down to this:That amazing first touch, where the completely wild horse realizes that he wants you to be that close and craves it when you scratch that special spot on him.

Looking through all the photos that Megan sent me and the ones she has in her album on Facebook its not hard to tell that the relationship is not only there but its solid and steady. When I was growing up, and later teaching and training with horses of my own I often told my clients this: "If a horse trusts you he will do anything you ask to the best of his ability." From what I have observed through Megan's steady documentation, Nevada and Megan have that kind of relationship. Its a beautiful thing.

Mustang Adoptions are coming up again on the Internet. If you are interested and have never adopted I suggest two things: 1) read the requirements and then 2) locate a Tip Trainer near you to guide your through the process and the training.

Tip Trainers can be found through  the Mustang Heritage Foundation:
Requirements and available horses can be found on line at the BLM On-line Adoptions site. http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/whbprogram/adoption_program/facility.html

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