The first of these essential study requirements and undoubtedly the most important is the life story documentary of a wild mustang chronicled by Emmy Award winning filmmaker, Ginger Kathrens.
- Cloud, Wild stallion of the Rockies, Cloud’s Legacy: The Wild Stallion Returns and Cloud: Challenge of the Stallions. The DVD can be purchased at: Adventures with Cloud If you do not reside in the US, email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out the shipping cost.
- Dr Francis Burton “The Horses Word” Chapter 7 Article Source
- The Natural Horse and Unnatural Behaviour
. Ed. P.A.Harris et al. Pub. Equine Veterinary Journal Ltd (PDF File).
These are ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to gain a more complete understanding of our horse’s perception of the domesticated world he lives in and gain at least a minimal appreciation of the Horse’s extremely sensitive, sensory systems and the fact that they can see things we cannot see, hear things we cannot hear, smell things we cannot smell, and sense things we could never imagine. Of equal importance is:
- Dr. Sue McDonnell and Daniel Mills (The Domestic Horse: The Origins, Development and Management of Its Behaviour – Amazon Second-Hand). This is not furnished in the course but may be economically obtained at Amazon.com
- Andy Beck’s E-book at: Andy Beck – Equine Behavior.com
- Evelyn B. Hanggi, MS,PhD The Thinking Horse: Cognition & Perception (PDF File).
- A brief starter on barefoot hoofcare.
The following below are other essential prerequisite study materials BEFORE utilizing the interactive Friendship Training format.
These study requirements are essential to gain a preliminary if not greater in-depth understanding of equine culture and normal herd dynamics in their natural environment that can only be gained from equine research scientists and ethologists (NOT anecdotal musings).
As you continue through the Levels, various other reading/study requirements are strongly recommended in addition to the required study curriculum.
We realize that for some, this may be regarded as ‘going back to night school.’ But really, the required reading/study material is minimal, and it will give you a much greater, in-depth understanding not only of your horse, (and ALL horses) but also WHY we still have so many behavioral issues and ‘horse problems’ after working with an animal that has remained unchanged mentally, emotionally and instinctually for 6,000 years.
Other websites that offer invaluable equine nutritional/digestive information for any concerned horse owners are at:
With all the above information you should now be ready to start “The Pre-conditioning Period” With Your Horse
This is THE most important part of the formula of the ‘Bridge Language’, there is NO short way to get around it, if this part is not done correctly, for however long it takes, you cannot move on to the next module.
This initial transformational period will last about a month. Each horse and each human are unique, individual beings so the actual amount of time it takes is dictated by both the horse and their human. Remember, there is no rush, you have all the time in the world to get this right which will enable you and your horse to have that long term, deep and meaningful relationship.
Choose your learning/teaching classroom area wisely so that it is convenient to you and your horse. Also set aside an alternate area in the event of severe weather. We will have discussed this during our conversation after you completed your application form to join FT.
For ‘about’ the next month, start feeding your horse as we discussed in the classroom area and just stay with them while they eat.
- Do not pet or touch them while they are eating.
- Do not wander off.
- Do not sit or stand too close while you wait for them to finish their supplemental feed.
- Casual watchfulness is fine.
- But try not to stare at them for any length of time.
You are there more as an admiring but relaxed, casually aware sentry or guard. Use this time to ‘take a deep breath,’ escape from the world’s demands, and appreciate this precious opportunity.
- Do not pet or rub your horse while they are eating.
- Horses don’t allogroom and eat at the same time.
While it may not seem like you are ‘not doing anything,’ you are actually accomplishing a significant amount, just be patient.
We humans need a time to reorient our thinking. The study curriculum will give you a deeper understanding of the need to help your horse heal, and have them believe that you really do love them with all your heart, and that you would never put them in harm’s way.
This is that first and most important step. We can tell our horse that we love them and want to win their heart but showing them that you have set aside a special time and place, just for the two of you, will be much more meaningful to them.
FT Cue / Requests
Unlike horses, we don’t have a tail to use for talking. And unlike horses, most of us can’t manipulate our ears. Some of us may ‘wiggle’ them. But not to any appreciable extent like horses do to communicate. But, like horses, we CAN use our eyes cue and facial cue expressions to convey emotional meaning. And like horses, we can use the the tone and volume of our voice to convey emotional meaning.
By combining them with a finger or hand gesticulation, it gives us the greatest range of expressing our feelings. It also accelerates our horse’s understanding of what we are saying. If ‘riding’ is reintroduced later on, our vocal communication will easily be transferred to very minute tactile cues.
I have been researching these cue/request communication for many, many years. So, again, let me reiterate. You may choose to use different verbal cues but before doing so, please contact me first and I will tell you the story of ‘Able and I and the ‘Ready cue.’
It is important that you practice these cues in front of a mirror, at your friend or partner and get used to using them because if you don’t use the exact formula each time your horse will be confused, this may seem that you are not doing anything but believe me, your horse is very smart and will learn very quickly so you cannot afford to get this wrong. Practice again and again until you are sure you have this right, then you can use them on your horse.
Module One: PREMLIMINARY CUES
Request for a momentary nose touch to my cheek to reassure me we are good friends and that everything between the two of us is all good.In horse language it means:
- We have touched noses
- Caught each other’s scent
- Made absolute identification
- Detect no aggressiveness
- Can safely and assuredly part as friends
In addition, the horse will also be better able to detect your scent of appreciation and approval. My own horse “Combustion” gave ‘kisses’ up to one minute if I asked.
- verbal cue: Kiss
- body cue: Always turn sideways and bend a bit (depending on horse and teacher height) to make the ‘target area’ easier for the horse to touch.
- action cue: Raise their head until the nose touches your cheek saying “Kiss”.
It is more than a momentary gentle nose touch to the cheek and NOT just a ‘nose bump to the cheek’. The release/approval when the horse is gently holding his/her nose to your cheek is making a kissing sound followed immediately by TREMENDOUS “GOOD BOY/GIRL”. You may use a small treat as a reward.
To me, this is one of the highest levels of true partnership in the animal world as it represents reciprocal, positive communication, a true communication of feelings and emotions between two different species that goes much deeper than words could ever explicate.
kiss may be taught with treats anytime during the day.
- VERRRRRRRRRRRRRY GOOOOOOOD OR: Verrrry nnnnnice =
You are doing FINE ! This is used for encouragement.
i.e. Please continue because you are doing GREAT and are VERY close to a “Good BOY!” (Intermediate Bridge)
- GOOD BOY!!!! / GOOD GIRL!!!! =
THAT is exactly the response, duration, action/reaction) I wanted you to make!
YOU ARE THE GREATEST, BESTEST, SMARTEST HORSE ALIVE ! I AM THE LUCKIEST PERSON ALIVE TO HAVE YOU!
Occasionally accompanied with rubs and ‘itchy spot’ scratches, (if the situation with your horse allows it.) This is used as a signal of approval and completion.
We must always be aware of and respect our horse’s feelings and needs. We also need a way to communicate our own feelings and needs. To express our disapproval of something they may have done, we use the word ‘no.’
To micro-adjust our disapproval to various situations, we use four distinctly different levels of ‘No.’ at different levels of intensity can mean different things such as:
1. ‘NO’ A low, soft but discernible ‘no.’Please stop what you are doing. Or, that was incorrect, let’s try it over again. This is the soft almost nonchalant but audible ‘No’ as in “Dad, can I go to the movies tonight?” “No, not tonight. It’s a school night.”
- verbal cue: No at lowest level.
- body cue: completely relaxed position.
- eyes cue: Flickering momentary but definite glance, for more aggressive horses, a longer look but not staring for a long period.
- face cue: Kind eye, placid expression
- hand cue: closed hand with forefinger extended and wrist action duplicating a small windshield wiper, slowly moving back and forth a few times.
2. ‘NO’ I am a bit alarmed that you are ignoring my request to stop what you’re doing and warning you to immediately stop it.
- verbal cue: No! at appropriate level
- body cue: slightly stiffening from a completely relaxed position.
- eyes cue: Slightly hardened.
- facial cue: Frown
- hand cue: closed hand with forefinger extended and wrist action duplicating a small windshield wiper a few times but moving back and forth a little faster.
3. ‘NO!!’ YOU MUST NEVER THINK OF DOING THAT AGAIN AS LONG AS YOU LIVE ! At all times, it means ABSOLUTELY STOP whatever you are doing.
- verbal cue: NO! Loud almost shout.
- body cue: Puffed up.
- eyes cue: HARD STARE.
- facial cue: Potential anger.
- hand cue: closed hand with forefinger extended and wrist action duplicating a small windshield wiper, moving back and forth rapidly a few times.
4. NO! GET AWAY! I expect an instantaneous, emergency reaction from you to IMMEDIATELY get out of the area. Re: “HOOK ‘EM HIPPIE!” or “Get out of the county NOW!” This is used when banishment is required. Banishment tells the horse they have done something SO bad that you do not want them near you any more. It is also used in emergency situations that require the horse to quickly move from wherever he is in the event you cannot physically reach him in time (i.e. oncoming vehicle, approaching an open gate, etc.)
- verbal cue: NO! SHOUTED
- body cue: Puffed up, attack mode.
- eyes cue: HARD STARE.
- facial cue: Angry.
- hand cue: Swiftly thrusting hand and arm from you waist or chest up and away toward the horse.
A word about the escalation of “No” to a higher level. You must be able to read your horse’s repetitive incorrect response as well as their general demeanour and intention. There is no one else that can do a better job than you can. For it is you who will challenge the world with them. And it is you who must shape and mold the relationship that will allow both of you to enjoy the challenge.
- To immediately escalate from the lowest level of “No” to a higher one when working with a shy/abused horse would only increase their fear and mistrust.
- To repeat ‘No’ at the same low level four or five times instead of immediately escalating to a higher level with a young male or aggressive horse would be wasting your time and producing a weak image of yourself.
- YOU must be the final judge of this.
GOUT (GO OUT) or PLEASE MOVE
Just as there are distinctly different levels of “No,” there are different levels of “Gout.” It is a slang contraction for, initially, a polite request to ‘just move a little’ as if you were carrying two armfuls of groceries into the house and a small child was blocking the doorway. You simply use three different levels of cue:
- Voice – tone & volume
- Facial – expression & movement
- Hand – gesture & level
At NO time do we ever ask our horse to move just for the sake of ‘moving their feet’ because we wish to feel higher in the herd rank!
“Please move a little away from me just a little bit calmly or/ I have to walk where you are standing, please move a little.”
Common courtesy as though speaking to a small child. Make certain that you put a limit on this level by saying “Whoa, GOOD BOY/GIRL” after they move a step or two out of the way and then immediately add a “Good Boy/Girl – Thank You” showing your appreciation.
- verbal cue: “Gout or Move Please” as in “Excuse me” or “Pardon me” but I have to get through here and you are in the way.
- body cue: Relaxed stance.
- eye cue: Raise your eyes very slightly
- facial cue: Just keep a gentle facial expression and direct your eyes the way you want the horse to go and gently put your nose up in the air.
- hand cue: Brushing imaginary crumbs off lower chest outward toward the horse.
The hand cues are exaggerated proportionately with each escalating level of “Gout/Move” (similar to the levels of “NO”) until the highest level being a sweeping motion from the “crumbs on the chest to swinging downward and then up, out and away toward the horse. It is usually accompanied by a head nod toss upwards.
- hand cue: Slightly exaggerated hand movement
- verbal cue: “GOUT or MOVE” Look, I ASKED you to move a little. Is there a problem”???
- body cue: Start to straighten up attentive, slightly alarmed but not too much.
- facial cue: a questioning look on your face as if to ask, ‘look did you not understand”?
- eye cue: cast your eyes upwards
- hand cue: Exaggerate brushing the crumbs off the chest in a downwards and outwards movement toward you horse
- verbal cue: “GOUT! or MOVE!” as in, “Look!!, move it or we are gonna roll in the grass right NOW!”
- body cue: Grow taller and lean forward slightly
- facial cue: An angry look on your face
- eye cue: Look directly at your horse
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we look forward to sharing this very important journey with both you and your horse.
There are more cues included in our other modules. But first we have to finish this phase.
Before you can move onto any other modules you must have posted your videos into the FT Family Forum for Chuck to assess that you and your horse are ready. You can post weekly or monthly, at your own pace, remember we said it is about ‘horse time’ not humans clock watching.
ALWAYS ASK! There is NO such thing as a 'dumb question'
Ready to join the FT Family which is why you are here then please do the following prior to purchasing the modules so you and I can be sure FT will be a fit for you and your horse.
Firstly you must completed the Friendship Training Application Form please do so before buying this module as everyone that joins needs to do that to be accepted on to the mentor-ship programme, FT is not for every human.
This first step of your journey with your horse is monumental in many ways!
Module 1 is the most important part of the future relationship you will want and have with your horse/s, with that in mind just allow the time it takes, there is no rush, there cannot be any rush, your horse will not understand your need to rush, remember, they are flight animals and any sign of stress coming from you will cause them to run away, bite of kick or whatever it is that your horse does or needs to do to protect him/herself.
The study curriculum will give you a deeper understanding of your horse's intrinsic needs, and how present day management and care may have adversely affected them. This will give you a much deeper, more comprehensive understanding of your horse’s feelings and needs.
Learning to become proficient using the FT 'bridge language' will enable you to easily communicate your feelings and needs to your horse. And at the same time, it will allow your horse to comprehend and understand them. Practice them on everything and anything except your horse until there is a need to use them.
There will come a time in your FT journey with your horse that will enable you to 'talk to them' as you would anther person and they will understand you, (and most importantly, believe you). But initially just telling your horse that you love them and would never put them in harm's way may 'fall on deaf ears'. Setting aside a special time and place for just the two of you to share quiet intimacy is the first step to making them feel special. And most importantly, that you are truly sincere in your endeavor to win their heart.
This initial period of spiritual connectivity will take about thirty days. It may take longer as each step of the entire course is micro-tailored to the individuality of the horse, (and their human).
Remember what I said earlier, this is the most important part, it is the starting point and in some cases may go on a lot longer than 30 days depending on you and your horses circumstances, time frame and mostly the trauma your horse may have gone through prior to your ownership.
Please be thoughtful if you bred your horse and are handling for the first time, this is of equal importance so take the time and most of all enjoy the intimacy.