Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Lesson 4 Harvey Jacobs and Arabian Horses

Introduction to Harvey Jacobs
Lesson One
Lesson Two
Lesson Three

Recapping what has been accomplished up until now, Harvey can work the horse both directions of the round pen at the speed of his choice. The horse turns back or stops on command and he allows Harvey to wall all the way up to him. The next step is touching the horse.

Standing next to the horse, Harvey will slowly offer his rope or his hand for the horse to smell. Like every other step to this point, he will try to not apply any more pressure than the horse can tolerate without moving off. So he will be watching the horse closely for tension to help him decide how much pressure he can use. Remember, the horse decides how much pressure. If the horse stands and sniffs at the rope or Harvey’s hand, he will praise it and release the pressure. In this instance removing the pressure means retracting the rope or hand.

As the horse becomes more comfortable with the pressure, Harvey will attempt to pet the horse on the shoulder. Again, he is watching the horse for signs of distress. If the horse leaves, Harvey sends it off for three or four strides and then stops it and tries again. If the horse allows Harvey to touch it on the shoulder, Harvey will pet the horse briefly and then remove his hand while praising the horse. Then Harvey will give the horse a brief break and then try to pet the horse again. He will continue until he gets to the point he can spend a considerable amount of time petting the horse on the shoulder and praising it. If at any time the horse tries to leave, Harvey will put pressure on the horse and move it off three or four strides. Again, Harvey wants the horse to think leaving is Harvey’s idea. The he will stop the horse, approach and try again.

Harvey goal is to make the horse want to be with him more than it wants to be away from him. He does this by making the horse’s time next to Harvey as pleasant as possible. If the horse leaves Harvey, it has to work. If it stays with Harvey, it gets petted. Since horses are instinctively lazy, it would prefer to not work. So if standing next to Harvey means getting stroked and talked softly to, that should be an easy choice for the horse to make. That’s what we are striving for, lessons that make the right choice for the horse, the easy choice.

As the horse’s comfort increases, Harvey will pet the horse in a larger area. He will gradually work up the neck, down the side of the face, over the back and so on. Always watching the horse’s comfort level and trying not to add more pressure than the horse can tolerate. He will move the horse off a few strides if it decides to leave. Then stop the horse and try again. He will continue in this manner until he can pet the horse all over the one side of its body.

Once the horse is totally accepting of being touched all over the one side of his body, Harvey will start doing the same exercise on the other side of the horse. Beginning at the shoulder and then enlarging the area as the horse tolerates it, Harvey will continue in the same manner as the first side. If the horse leaves, Harvey will move him off a few strides and then stop and try again. This off side will usually be much more difficult with most horses. Because we all tend to deal with a horse mostly on the left side, they are naturally more desensitized on that side. The right side will take a lot more patience and a lot more time. It may even be necessary to go back to the left side to reassure the horse and then move back to the right. This exercise is continued until the horse stands quietly while it is being touched or petted all over its body and head.

Once Harvey can touch the horse all over it’s body from both sides and in front, he will repeat the process this time using his rope. Again he will watch the horse closely, trying not to apply more pressure than the horse can tolerate. If the horse leaves, Harvey will move it off three or four strides and then try again. However, if the horse leaves very excitedly because it is afraid of the rope, he might let it go a little longer to relax a bit before he tries again. With some horses he will push the horse to a lope or even a gallop to be sure the horse sees the correction as work and not just flight. This is a decision he makes based on reading the horse.

At different times during this whole process the horse may think, I’ve had it with this guy and just take off and decide it doesn’t want to try at all.. Whenever that happens, Harvey will go back to the beginning working the horse and turning it as many times as it takes for the horse to settle. Then he’ll go back to what he was working on. Eventually Harvey will have the horse comfortable with being touched all over on it’s face and body with both his hand and the rope.

John Lyons once said the horse will usually protest at least three times before it totally commits to giving itself over to something new. If you haven’t seen the horse do so, it’s not as committed as you think. Over the years, I’ve found this to be true, so don’t think if you’re trying these techniques with your horse that you’re doing something wrong when hit one of the blocks from the horse. They are a normal part of the process.

Occasionally, you’ll come across a horse that loping and turning, turning and loping will wind up. If that is the case Harvey will attempt to settle that horse down. Usually you can settle the horse down by slowing it down. Refer back to the earlier posts on slowing the gait and stopping. The key to this is making sure that your movements and cues stay slow and small. The horse needs less stimulus, not more. You want to look for ways to lessen the stimuli whatever it might be for that particular horse.

I think this is a good place to bring in Rhythm, the young Arabian stallion in Thursday’s post. Since Rhythm had the added stimulation of the mares in heat right outside the round pen, I felt it was too complicated to explain Harvey’s process in detail and deal with Rhythm’s unusual circumstances. So now that we have gone over some of the basics of Harvey’s round pen work tomorrow we will begin with Rhythm.

The process Harvey has taken us through to this point are very much like those I have seen with the round pen work of John Lyons , Richard Shrake, Monty Roberts and Clinton Anderson . Each may describe it a little differently and may apply the pressure a little differently but the results will be the same. With all of them, these are the basis for “hooking up” with the horse.

The broodmare, Bey Aana, in this picture is being asked to move around the pen. She from her head position and the expression in her eye, She is comfortable with the situation and understands what is being asked of her.

To be continued....
Lesson Five

I wanted to share this blog I found yesterday with all of you women who ride. This is a post on dressagemom’s blog I Ride


  1. When I get the time I watch some of the tapes from RFDTV by Clinton Anderson, Chris Cox and a few others and they all say that the horse has two brains, so everything that you do on one side has to be done on the other side as well, and that they will act like they have never done this before even though they have just done it perfectly from the other side. I find this quite amazing.

    I also find that with all of my horses they will work better going one way round than the other.

    I have to say that my babies always amaze me with their ability to learn quickly, you expect to have problems forever and they just click.

    I have a 9 month old who has a minimal white spot on his belly just behind his front legs. Yestereay I had to shave him, hold a ruler up to it and take a photograph so that the APHA could know that it was sufficient to qualify him for the regular registry. I used a pair of Oster clippers which normally sends all my horses into a frenzy, and could not believe that he just stood and let me shave him and take the photograph laying under him. He has been amazing since birth and is the most laid back baby I have ever bred.

    Anyway I am rambling, horses have an incredible capacity for learning and I love it.

    Interesting reading, I will definitely keep following your posts.

  2. Question for you: I've been reading these lessons and when you say "praising the horse and releasing", is Harvey actually offering some sort of praise? Is he saying something or is the praise literally just the release?

  3. Amy, Harvey used a verbal praise. "Good" in a soothing tone, I believe but it doesn't really matter the word or words, it's the tone that's important and, of course, the release. The horse doesn't learn anything without a release. Arabian horses in particular thrive on talk in the training process.