Robyn Miller is no stranger to the Midsouth area. She’s often a trainer riders go to for help, either retraining “problem” horses or starting off young, green horses. With Robyn, everything starts from the ground-up.
She recently conducted a session at Meadowthorpe Farm in Eads, Tenn., introducing her training methods to a group of experienced horsewomen and horses. The group was interested in learning how to better connect with their horses and learn training tips that could improve their overall communication and partnerships with their horses.
The horses in this clinic were well-trained and experienced. Most have been long-handled by their handlers, all being mid to senior aged horses, from a variety of disciplines: Hunter/Jumper, Dressage/Eventers, lesson horses and family-owned pleasure horses.
Robyn got down to business, explaining proper safety for handlers using a flag as a training tool- along with rope halters and leads. There are “safe zones” for handlers to stand when working with horses, especially when incorporating an unfamiliar tool, such as a flag. Robyn showed the importance of body awareness and where to stand in relation to horses when working on the ground, from both the horse’s point of view and from a safety perspective. Safety is at the forefront while working with horses, but understanding the reasons for where to stand and where not to stand, and how body language is interpreted by a horse is a critical component to her methods.
Robyn put her teachings to action introducing the flag to a horse from the group having the most aversion to the flag. Ironically this horse was the veteran and well-loved schoolmaster of the group, Chewy. This 24-year-old retired show jumper and lesson horse has been around the block, but was the most “offended” to the sight and sounds from the flag. No problem! Robyn demonstrated how to safely, consistently, and calmly communicate to Chewy that it was no big deal! Before long, Chewy, after much snorting and prancing, figured out it was not something to be feared as he began to understand what was being asked of him by Robyn through her calm, consistent movements.
Shortly thereafter, the remainder of the group got busy working with their own horses. Everyone practiced handling the flag with slow, calm, gentle and consistent movements and intent in order to train what the “ask” was.
Robyn emphasized “What is most important is to get a response and to reward that response, no matter how tiny the try.” Learning to recognize the response and reward small tries is how to start off on the right foot with her training. It’s not about big, flashy, reactions. It’s also not about going fast. It takes time, patience, and consistency, but when the horse catches on, it builds confidence, and understanding between horse and human both on the ground and in the saddle.
Everything Robyn teaches on the ground in her training translates to the back of the horse. Connecting the energy to the intention, directing the impulsion, and learning when to reward a learning response by stopping are the overall themes covered by Robyn’s "less is more" training techniques.
The Meadowthorpe Farm crew is excited to continue their learning ahead with Robyn’s Tuesday onsite clinic sessions and discover enhanced partnerships with their horses moving ahead through Robyn’s lead. Reach out if interested in learning more about Robyn’s methods or if interested in joining in on the Tuesday sessions at Meadowthorpe Farm. Auditors are welcome. Email Manager@MeadowthorpeFarm or contact Robyn Miller at Point Pleasant Farm for more information.