By: Deb Kitchenmaster

During a twenty-four hour frame of time, how many times do you ask or are asked, ‘What time is it?” We gauge our choices and decisions on the time it is, the time we have, the estimated time it will take to accomplish something, or whether we want to put our time toward something or someone.

Yogi Berra is known for a quote he made about timing. “You don’t have to swing hard to hit a home run. If you got the timing, it’ll go.”

This baseball principle applies to horsemanship as well. If we get ‘timing’ with our horse (groundwork or in the saddle) we will score with our horse, and that is what we want. Here are a few pointers to clarify and encourage you with timing.

Simply, it starts with something you cannot buy or pay someone to give you. It starts IN YOU. In understanding the instinctual behavior of equines, you enter a zone where YOU notice, YOU observe, YOU become aware. This equine awakening comes from understanding the horse wants a sense of safety. Always! The horse responds to pressure to get back into that safety zone. For horses to learn as fast as possible, the release of the cue (or the application of pressure) must come within 3 seconds of the horse’s behavior. If the horse benefits from the release of pressure immediately, he will try for a release in the new position again. This timing comes from an understanding of equines and an awareness of that specific horse, not a program — a connection between human and horse, that you are personally in that 3-second communication zone with THAT specific horse.

Horses learn quickly. In the wild, they learn to read the environment and react in ways that will save their lives. In the power of awareness, horses know if a sound or object is dangerous or safe to ignore. Horses read situations in a moment and immediately know how to respond. An example would be horses grazing peacefully in the grassland aware a lion is nearby and horses on the run from a lion. They know if the lion is hungry or not. They know if they are safe in the lion’s presence.

Meadow Run Annie, a chestnut Morgan mare, was ten years old when we got her. I only met one handler and heard her story regarding this mare. Annie was an alpha horse and she had little RESPECT for humans. Yep, there’s a story here. HERS!

A group of women from a community 85 miles away had scheduled a round-pen session that day. This is where a horse and I are inside the round pen and the humans are outside the round-pen listening and watching. I have a headset on, speakers are on, rope in my right hand, and the horse is simply a horse — no equipment, not even a halter.

School was delayed 2 hours because of the heavy fog this day. The phone call let me know the women were coming but might be a few minutes late. Annie and I were ready for them when they arrived on this gloomy, foggy day. That day we were going to give our attention to RESPECT. Annie was circling clockwise and counterclockwise in the round pen under my promptings. One thing I wanted from Annie was that when I asked her to change direction, she would choose to turn and face me in the change and not turn away from me, giving me her butt. Again and again and again; butt, butt, and butt. I wanted

face. The gals were rooting for Annie. Annie was having a challenging time trying to figure out what this human was asking. Then it happened. For the first time, in transition, she faced me; and when she did, the sun burst through the clouds! (Literally) A horse broke through some fear and hope and joy broke through to humans.

Psalms 27:8 When you said, “Seek My face (in prayer, require My presence as your greatest need),” my heart said to you, “Your face, O LORD, I will seek (on the authority of your word).”

By: Deb Kitchenmaster