(Lyra and Moose)
Forgive me for continuing to carry on about the Chris Irwin free training videos available at horse.com and State Line Tack. It's just that the more I watch, the more impressed I am with Chris as a trainer and educator (and appreciative that this resource is available at no cost). I've watched the In-Hand series and the Riding: Basics series and have started the Round Pen videos.
What about Irwin works for me? He uses clear, precise language and illustrates each concept slowly with well video-graphed images of his interactions with the horse. He breaks concepts down into small, small micro-bits of information. I've heard some folks say they find this boring. I find it enlightening.
Sometime ago I read one of his books, Horses Don't Lie: What Horses Teach Us About Our Natural Capacity for Awareness, Confidence, Courage, and Trust. I enjoyed the book yet find these videos more fully present Irwin's phenomenal knowledge of equine physiology, psychology, and mechanics in a very easy to access format.
(Steamer and Joe)
I find Irwin's descriptions of equine/human interaction somewhat unique compared to the work of other trainers I have viewed or read. How? Perhaps it is his emphasis on the physiological rhythm of the horse and his clear descriptions of how our common behaviors disrupt that rhythm causing irritation for our equine partner and resulting in the elevation of the head and inverting of the back. Sometimes this is so subtle it could be easily overlooked, sometimes it is pronounced and becomes an ingrained way of moving for the horse.
A small example of behavior I'm changing after watching some of Irwin. Familiar though I might be with concepts of predator/prey, I continue to interact with horses by frequently approaching their head. It is one of the first places I engage when showing expression. Yet approaching the face and neck is predator behavior used for both the expression of aggression, dominance, and affection. It is a hard-wired stressor for horses. Following this way of thinking, each time I reach out to stroke Red's face, he is more than likely going to elevate his head and invert his back - adrenalin is triggered, stress increases. If I want to massage his face - I will start behind his withers and slowly work my way forward.
(Moose and Lyra)
Check out Chris' video on predator/prey behavior - click HERE.
Here is a list of the topics covered in Irwin's series of training videos:
Language of Lunge
Round Pen Body Language