Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Are Arabian Horses Different from Other Horses?

Are Arabian horses different than other horses? You bet they are but they’re also just like other horses. They have the same instincts and the same care requirements. They’re trained the same way as other horses. You’ll notice I said, “trained” not “bullied,” trained. You CANNOT bully an Arabian horse and that is one of its differences from other breeds.

Arabians are smart and also very willing, if you’ll only give them a chance. To bully or coerce an Arabian horse to do anything can only lead to problems down the way. Each horse is different with it’s own distinct personality, just like people are different.

Because of this every horse will have a different reaction to the insult of being bullied and the problems resulting are as varied as the personalities of the horses. From everything I see, this is one of the biggest cause of problems that people have with Arabian horses. (The other big problem would be – letting the horse be the leader, which I’ll talk about later.)

If your training program utilizes force and intimidation, it’s not going to be successful with an Arabian. An Arabian horse wants to be a willing partner in it’s training. If you allow the horse to learn in a manner that makes sense to him, you will be rewarded with an eager, willing partner.

If you don’t understand how to do that, there are many successful trainers out there who use only the types of methods Arabian horses thrive on. These are a few of the ones I have personal experience with and a lot of respect for John Lyons, Clinton Anderson, Tommy Garland , Harvey Jacobs, Cody Hurford. I’ll tell you a little about each here. They all have different lives and some different methods based on the same principles of true horsemenship

I first encountered John Lyons,about 20 years ago. I had been working as a groom at a leading show horse training facility in Auburn, Wa trying to get my horse skills up before I bought that first horse. Just the hands on with all of those horses every day was an amazing education but I felt like I needed more.

I now had three horses and we had small issues I didn’t feel I had the knowledge to deal with. I found an advertisement in an issue of Horse & Rider for a John Lyons, event in our area and I signed up.

I can remember the first evening was a demonstration of John’s Round Pen Reasoning techniques. I was mesmerized and I can remember feeling like all kinds of little pieces were falling into place for me.

There was a party of observers there that I recognized from working in the Arab show barn. When I spoke to them at the break, it was interesting to see how close-minded they were. There were comments about circus acts and such that made it clear to me they didn’t have a clue how this related to the everyday handling of their horses. That was really my first awareness that just because someone had owned horses their whole life didn’t make them an expert.

That weekend I watch John Lyons, start an unbroken horse under saddle and then throughout the week I came and watched him work with a group of about twenty horses and riders. I didn’t miss a session and I soaked the information up like a sponge.

I remember the ad had a long list of vices: does your horse pull back when tied, refuse to load in the trailer the list went on and with my three horses, each had a thing on the list. With the information I learned I was able to go home and fix all three situations that week.

I would say that the foundation for my training the foals born here was predominately laid that weekend. And the one thing that was most important to me that I still hear in my head today in John Lyon’s voice is “the more steps there are in teaching a horse, the easier it is for the horse.” Every time I struggle with something new with a horse, I hear John and I think, “OK, how can I break this down into more steps?” It works every time!

Clinton Anderson I meet at Equimasters at the Western Washington Fairgrounds in Puyallup. I was there promoting the Arabian horse and was fortunate enough to get a break from the booth to see Clinton Anderson demonstrations. I found his communications style to be quite different from John Lyons but the message was the same. It totally reinforced what I’d learned those many years ago.

Tommy Garland is a name well known trainer in the Arabian horse industry. Tommy has successfully shown Arabian horses at the national level for many years. My Arabian club, the Daffodil Arabian Horse Association, has regularly presented clinics featuring well respected trainers. I have participated in all of these clinics with my horses and Tommy Garland has been one of my favorites.

The first time I met him was about ten years ago and I participated with Dandy, a then 5 year old gelding that I had started under saddle myself. Dandy (registered name Scandal Sheet) was green broke for that first clinic.

Just this last year, Tommy Garland returned to our area for another clinic and Dandy came back to the clinic with my 13 year old granddaughter in tow. I brought to ride my herd sire, Scandalous Legacy and one of his sons, Scandalous Rhythm.

As usual Tommy’s clinic was well attended and most helpful. He communicates in a manner that is easy to understand and his techniques are simple and easy to follow. He currently has a series running on RFD-TV and I encourage all horse people, not just Arabian owners to watch.

Harvey Jacobs and Cody Hurford are cowboys. I think they’re known best around the rodeo circuit. I’m going to write more about them later but for now, suffice it to say in my next life I want to come back with the knowledge of a “Harvey Jacobs” or a “Cody Hurford.”

So for today’s post, I’m going to end here with the belief that all the information necessary to learn to “teach” and Arabian horse instead of “bullying” is available through these men. I’ll continue to address the questions I raised in Trash Talking Arabian Horses in later posts.

UPDATE: I came across this post today (5-23-2012) and realized these comments I made about what I think of Tommy Garland have long since changed. There's a lot of water under the bridge since that time and I no longer have respect for this man as a horseman. He may be capable of being a great horse trainer but whether or not he actually uses that talent to make the world a better place for horses is another thing. I guess it goes to show people allow you to see only what they want you to know about them. The man I saw at the last clinic I attended was wearing a mask designed to promote himself. He was quite different from the man I met at the first clinic many years before. The change is unfortunate and a loss for the industry and its horses.


  1. Wow, and here everyone tells me that John and Josh Lyons and Clinton Anderson are like gods and you don't know what you're talking about unless you've been certified by them. I use the methods they do. I've watched some of John Lyons training videos and agree with most of it. There are some segments that I did not agree with, but I hear from people that Clinton Anderson differs slightly in some areas. I have not yet had the opportunity to see any of his work.

  2. Ugh, of course there is no edit feature.
    I forgot to add that it is good to hear someone talk about them in a "real" way.

  3. Well, Cheri, I don't know about gods but they're great horsemen that's for sure. And while they may differ some in technique it's all based on the same principles. Not to mention that techniques can change from horse to horse due to the horse's personality. Horse training (or whispering, either) is NOT an exact science.

  4. I dont have Arabians but I am fortunate enough to have Paint Horse stock that originates from the Sonny Dee Bar (Quarter Horse) line of breeding. We were fortunate enough to own one of his crop out sons Sonny Dee Bee (He had too much white and was registered as paint). Their babies and generations following are amazing riding horses. I have not had one yet that has tried to buck or go crazy when I have gotten ready to break them to ride at 2 years old. And I agree absolutely that horses learn better with patience, gentleness and understanding, while at the same time showing them where their place and your space is in a firm manner.

    Another trainer that we watch on RFDTV is Chris Cox.

    I have just sold a three year old filly that has been ridden about 20 times and is as quiet as can be, you would never believe that she hasnt been trail riding for years.

    Horses are very clever, and yes they each have their own unique personality (I have one I had to hand raise because her momma never got her milk in, and that is a problem because she is now confused as to whether she is a human or I am a horse and tries to treat me like a horse which can be a bit rough (I weigh 140 lbs and she weighs 1100 lbs). I am sending her to a trainer who I trust to see what he can do with her because I dont want to part with her but I need to gain her respect.

    Nice to hear you speak about these things, I just wish there were more people who had the same beliefs but unfortunately there are too many who dont.