The de-spooking clinics are divided into five sections
1. Horse Physiology and Psychology
2. Equitation Techniques
3. Mounted Drill
4. Mounted Obstacles
5. Mounted Sensory
Horse Physiology and Psychology
The first lesson "Horse Physiology and Psychology" covers the physical attributes of the horse relating to equine vision. The thought process is also examined. The horse's "eye" and how it relates to "fight or flight" is one of the least understood aspects of training. This, along with the role played by the horses "instinctual vision", is used in developing the proper authority by the rider/handler. The herd instinct that naturally occurred in equine evolution is used as a tool in aiding, instead of hindering, the rider. This lesson enables the human to clearly understand his or her role in developing the horse's confidence in the rider and\or handler. Further, the psychological aspects relating to the horse's brain and how it (the brain) functions and why its understanding is paramount to solving the "spooking issues" that all horse's have undergone.
Civilians are trained using the same methods employed by successful mounted police officers throughout the world. This style of riding is called the "Military Seat". Every rider understands that to get the horse to perform any "duty" the rider must give one or more signals for the horse to comprehend the "task at hand". The task(s) in this area of the course are designed to not only instill confidence in the horse and the rider, it is also used when introducing the horse to sensory and obstacle training. Basically, there must be a clear and concise methodology in communicating the riders' instructions. The equitation techniques used to teach in this section of the course are proven to work using a combination of weight, balance, light hands and body position.
Mounted Drill is used in the training of horses and riders to put to practical use the knowledge gained by the riders in the "equitation" component of the course. Combining equitation and mounted drill teaches the horse to work more freely with the horses around them. This working knowledge, along with the use of the horses instinct to interact with the herd, reinforces the horses ability to negotiate obstacles and sensory training that comes later in the course.
Riders and mounts will learn to negotiate obstacles such as barricades, vehicles, bridges, teeter-totters and hanging tarps. As in the training of the police mount, these obstacles are not only used, they are combined as the course progresses. This means, for instance, walking over a wooden bridge while walking under a hanging tarp. It is imperative that the rider be able to control every movement his or her horse makes in order to effectively instruct the mount. This is accomplished by using the dill training, horse psychology and the equitation techniques taught in the previous lessons.
Sensory obstacle training differs from physical obstacle training in that this training is the use of perceived obstructions as opposed to physical obstructions. The use of tactile obstacles, different noises, smoke, flares that produce smoke and fumes are used to present new visual, auditory, and smell challenges for the horse to overcome. Like all obstacles, they are introduced slowly, and, after proper training, are combined with the physical obstacles to improve both the rider and mounts confidence and understanding of each other.
Combination of Training
Finally, as all the above tasks are completed, they are combined. Before the course is through, horses and riders will ride over teeter-totter bridges, walk through smoke and toward police lights and sirens while maintaining their place in the drill. All of this will happen simultaneously by the end of the two-day clinic.
Come and experience a Mounted Police Training School, you will be amazed at what you can do!