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Training Philosophy

A Personal Approach

 No two people are the same. No two horses are the same. Therefore, no two training programs can be the same.  Every horse and every rider have different needs at various points in their equestrian career. Here at BCF, we aim to help horses and riders reach their full potential through individualized training programs that emphasize clear explanations, compassion, and a thorough training foundation on which to build a solid future.

For Horses We Offer…

A multifaceted program that puts the horse first, utilizing approaches based on compassion, trust, and a clear understanding of equine behavior. 

For Riders We Offer…

An integrative approach that explains techniques clearly and focuses on a harmonious connection between horse and rider.

Tenants Of The BCF Program

Every horse wants to be good

At BCF, we strongly believe that there are no bad horses.  Problems with horses usually arise when there is miscommunication between human and horse, or people are trying to force a horse to do something that he or she is not able, willing, or ready to do.  We emphasize clear communication in our program so that both horse and rider are able to move to the next step. 

Understand equine behavior

 We take a flight animal, strap a piece of leather to its back, and expect it to move exactly where we want it to, when we want it to, through subtle queues in our seat and leg. It is amazing that horses let us on their backs in the first place, and it is important to understand their natural behaviors so that we can communicate effectively with them,  Horses will never automatically understand human language, so it is up to us to learn horse language.  

Let the horse choose

 We often buy or breed a horse for an intended purpose, forgetting that the animal on the other end of the lead rope has a brain and is capable of making decisions.  Every horse has a purpose. Some may be excellent dressage horses, some may show talent in jumping, others may be best suited as a trail horse, and others – the hardest ones for us people to understand – just need to be horses, and perhaps they weren’t cut out to be a riding horse.  It is important that equestrians recognize the right of their horses to choose what he or she wants to do.  Yes, we can encourage them to learn, but trying to fit a square peg into a round hole will never result in a round peg. 

Deconstruct Problems

 When a horse is frightened, they are not able to learn.  Therefore, it is very important to deconstruct an exercise when the handler is having problems.  This may mean taking a 5 foot oxer down to a crossrail, or it might mean going on and off the trailer ten times before traveling anywhere.  If the horse is frightened, you are much better off in the long run if you take the time deconstruct, and then reconstruct, than if you try to use force to push through the problems.  These training moments are a time to build trust.  When you get to a tough combination on the cross country course, you’ll be glad you didn’t jeopordize trust over something small in the schooling ring.  

Positive Reinforcement

The most common error we see among riders is people expecting horses’ behavior to change when they give no incentive.  This does not mean you need to lavish your horse with treats.  It does, however, mean that when you ask for something, and your horse responds appropriately, you must give a reward.  For the highly trained horses, the reward can be as subtle as a slight release with a rein, or softening of the core muscles.  For a green horse, a reward may take form in a larger release, or a pat on the shoulder. We refine our queues as our horse learns, and we refine our rewards at the same time.  

Inculcate trust, not fear

It’s true, trainers can get a lot out of their horses through the use of fear.  Conversely, we believe that when you come to a scary combination on a jump course, or something unexpected happens when you are alone on a trail ride, trust will get you further than fear.  It is also important, however, to understand that trust doesn’t come from bribery.  When equestrians understand horse behavior, they know that a large part of trust is leadership, and leadership must be established from the moment you take the horse out of the pasture to when you put him up after your ride 

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