Category Archives: Training Talk

Be aware of what you’re asking for

Be aware of what you’re asking for.

Often people say the first problem they have is catching their horse!  Well, perhaps your horse is doing what you’re asking!  What I mean by that is, it’s all in your approach.  I like my horses to catch me.  Horses have 3 zones, awareness, decision and pressure.  When entering the ‘decision zone’, do not look him in the eyes.  You are actually telling him to ‘go away’.  Instead, relax, look how nice his chest, legs or hooves are.  ‘Compliment’ him with your eyes.  Approach in a semi circle fashion from the front around to his shoulder.  If your horse continues to walk away, then you need to make him go away a lot.  Retry and approach again.  To build trust, you may need to reinforce an advance/retreat action.  More on that next month.

In the meantime,

Be safe and Have Fun!

Lorraine Pelletier
EC Certified Coach
Monty Roberts Advance Student
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Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Training Talk


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Training Talk – August (part 2)

This month, to kick things off since it’s our first edition of Training Talk, I decided to take advantage of Lorraine’s expertise and ask her opinion on Carbo 😀

This is what I sent her by way of introduction to my situation:

My horse is 17 now and has been off for the past 2 years due to an injury.  He’s 100% sound now and I want to start reconditioning him.  I found that I was trying to ride him as if he’d only had a few months off and so was asking for more of a frame than his muscles are able to handle and he started to go behind the bit. Since then I’ve been light on the contact and just been trying to push him forward but find that he’s kind of pissy and frequently does this little short-strided trot and inverts and breaks into a canter.  Rather than pull him back into a trot where he’s not comfortable I send him forward into the canter and get off his back and let him go for a bit.  A big issue I’m finding with really being able to push him forward and encourage him to open his stride and really get some “swing” going is that our arena is really small – especially for a 17.3hh horse! My question is, are there some exercises you can suggest that will help strengthen his back that we can accomplish in our small arena?

Great thought process.  ‘Thank you’ from your horse to giving him time and pushing, rather than reining him back!  Yes, a big boy needs room.  You may need to make an exception and trailer him to a larger arena for a few times.  I use a training process of ‘make it easy when he’s doing what you ask, and put him to work when he’s not.  Rest is the reward.  Ground stretches are very good for him before work.  A horse approaching his senior years may also need a bit of a boost nutritionally.  A natural herbal blend forming a ‘multi vitamin’ is easy to digest and assimilate into his system.  He’ll feel better and ‘soften’ up nicer.   (On the ground) have him bend his neck down and reach towards his hind quarter (both sides!).  You can even try to do this and then pick up his back foot and extend it towards his head at the same time(!)*.   Also have him place his head down and between his front legs.   I pick up one leg at a time and flex them as far as possible in all extended positions.  It is important to read your horse closely so not to over extend…work your way up gradually to relax his muscles.  To round out and strengthen his back, run your finger (or blunt object) under his belly line from front to back.  He’ll kind of roach his back.  Do this a few times daily.  I don’t advocate ‘treats’ from the hand, however, a carrot is a great encouragement for the first exercises.  After the exercises, lay the carrot on the ground for him to pick it up.I can’t stress enough emphasis on rider position and posture.  Have someone (skilled) observe you from all angles when riding.  It is amazing how we contribute to issues with poor posture and not even know it!
*I have seen this on YouTube and will attempt to find it again and forward it to you.  (I’ll post this if Lorraine’s able to find it)

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Training Talk – August

Welcome to the first edition of Training Talk with Lorraine Pelletier!  We received a question for Lorraine about working with an 8 year old mare that had previously been in a trailering accident and is now being slowly brought back to form and with the goal of competing as a jumper.  See below for full details and Lorraine’s response.

I’m working with an 8 year old warmblood mare.  She was trained up to first level dressage but then had a trailering accident and was off for a year.  She then went back into training with a hunter/jumper trainer and from what I hear there was a personality clash.  It’s been a year since then and I’ve started working with her.  She’s very athletic and eager to move forward, but I’m having problems with trot to canter transitions.  She’s hollowing her back and throwing her head in the air.  Is this an attitude issue or conditioning?  I’ve only been working with her for a couple months so I guess could it be both?  What would you suggest?  How should I address this problem?


Without being able to see the horse, I hesitate to be too quick to answer for several reasons.  Firstly, let me say that I am basing my response on your basic description of what you see ‘on the outside’.
I like to start things over from the beginning.  I approach ‘intrinsically’. This mare has experienced something traumatic.  It’s possible she hasn’t recovered from the trailer accident.  My approach would be to restart and refresh.  It sounds like you did that physically (and it’s nice to hear you gave her the time to recoup), however, I have experienced horses that need to have an apology (for the accident).  After a clean chiropractic check, a process I start with is Join-Up in the round pen.  I read the horse carefully to see how he/she moves and I may reintroduce side reins to refresh proper flexing at the poll.  I don’t feel there is an attitude or conditioning issue.  There is always a cause and a reason/ an action and re-action. 
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Posted by on August 10, 2011 in Training Talk


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Training Talk with Lorraine Pelletier

In our continued attempt to live up to our name: Horse Resource Network we have networked to provide training resources and answer your questions regarding horse behavior and training issues.  (How was that sentence? I thought it was pretty clever, if I do say so myself. 😉 )  If you’re having an issue with your horse or have a question about behavior or training, we’d like to encourage you to send your questions to

So, without further adieu, we would like to introduce you to Lorraine Pelletier of Tranquille Farms located in Lake Country, BC, Canada.  HRN will be working with Lorraine to provide answers to your questions.  Lorraine is a Certified Western Coach and has completed the Monty Roberts Introductory Course.  She believes in non-violent training methods and getting horses to a “neutral” place where they can then proceed in training in whatever discipline they are best suited for.  We did an email interview with her to provide some background information on her experiences and her theories.

HRN: Can you tell us a bit about your history? What trainers have you worked with/learned from?

LP: I started, of course, taking my first horse experiences from my Dad when I was about 5-6 yrs. old.  I continued to gain valuable training/riding tips at a young age from a wonderful old neighbour, Mr. Wren.  I was then encouraged into 4H and local western shows. I enjoyed the competition into my teens.  When I focused on the equine industry as a career, I studied many trainers from Canada and the U.S., of which included Parelli, John Lyons, Doug Mills, Chris Irwin & Monty Roberts concepts, namely Tom Durocher (Certified MR Instructor).  I consider myself to be open minded and I wanted to see who and what had the best results.  I feel there’s always something to be gained by working with more horses, different situations and using concepts that work.

Other training included more than just from the equine industry.  I have extensive business management and  administration skills.  Travel has added life experiences that books don’t teach.  I have included many small courses to add to a variety of abilities in order to develop my overall teaching skills I share with all.

HRN: What have you learned from the Monty Roberts course?

LP: When I found Monty Roberts, I was intrigued by his concepts from the beginning.  The methods used, worked!  It was simple, natural, and again, worked!  I saw immediate results in the horse, they are the teachers, the best trainers in the world!   First, I sought where the closest MR trainer/instructor was and found him, Tom Durocher, in Alberta.  I read all the books I could, watched videos, and started practicing these wonderful concepts. I had Tom come to my farm for private training sessions.  When I began studying Equine psychology, I found invaluable lessons in equine behaviour, etc..  Working with wild mustangs was an experience no words can explain.  Real life horses, real issues, and real solutions were realized through taking/practising the (ongoing) courses and training.  I like to encourage others to live the working concepts and not the names per say.

HRN: What are your goals and aspirations with training horses and riders?

LP: My goals are ongoing.  I keep thinking, “ok, this is the tip of the iceberg.”  I realize there’s so much to learn that it’s simply ongoing!  I became a Certified Coach in 2007 as I felt the need to help riders ride better.  I had something to share.  Then I saw that horses needed help, too.  I had students taking lessons on horses that weren’t ready, nor at the same level that the rider was.  Remedial issues are not dealt with in the National Coaching Curriculum.  Coaching is about helping people improve their riding skills.  I felt I needed to help both in order to make the ‘package deal’.  Its team work that has multiple needs.

When my marriage ended I was raising four kids on values, morals, and life skills which I concluded to be based on trust, respect, and communication.  How I work with the horses all fits in with the same concepts. There is no value (and nothing gained) in abuse or violence. It is not necessary and I can prove it.  The proof is in the horses.

HRN: What kind of problems do the horses in your remedial training sessions usually have?

LP: For the most part, I am finding that the most common issue is trust.  Once the horse and I have established the basis of communication, the rest begins to fall into place.   I focus on the grass roots first.  Get back into ‘neutral’, forget the past and build on the now, the positive that takes us into the future.  I don’t dwell on specific issues like biting, kicking, disobedience, etc.  As I have learned from Temple Grandin, autistic similarities between humans and horses are uncanny.  It amazes me to watch the horse simply ‘loose’ the undesirable traits as we work together over a period of time on ‘positive praise’ methods.  That time, when asked, is the horse’s time.  Not one day or two.  When you act like you only have 15 minutes, it will take all day; if you act like you have all day, it will only take 15 minutes.  Some horses have taken years to become conditioned to their situation.

When you enjoy doing something that has value, the outcome is always good.  The horse needs to be taken to where the owner can continue ‘the package deal’.  I insist on interaction and have the owners watch and even participate when possible in continued education as a team effort.

HRN: Why did you choose the Monty Roberts method over other similar programs?

LP: I continue to practise theses concepts because I haven’t found anything else similar.

The horses are the proof and people are the proof, both showing positive results.  Feedback from owners of all ages confirm my convictions.  Horses are a wonderful animal that we don’t have the right to dominate, rather enjoy!  Being safe and keeping the fun in any discipline or sport causes a willing, healthy partner.  When we find a good thing, go with it; it’s about time we relax and see the tranquillity that is available to all of us, if we choose to allow it in our lives!

A Note from Lorraine:
When working with horses, please remember that situations can be dangerous.  There’s no such thing as a bad horse born; just as there’s no such thing as a bad child born.   People condition horses to form issues.  When you have a problem, the first place to look is in the mirror.  Then seek help from someone that has extensive experience in dealing with that particular issue.  You are not alone, we are here to help.  Call anytime.

For more information on Lorraine and Tranquille Farms check out her website at

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Posted by on July 7, 2011 in Training Talk


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