By Jaelin Engle
Students who may or may not be in FFA take their time to train their farm animals. Many times it takes a lot of effort and concentration to perform this activity. Not only does the trainer have to understand what they are doing but they also have to understand the animal itself. This sport needs a lot of communication between the trainer and the animals.
WCHS Junior Lexi Giddens talked about what she thinks it means to have a trusting relationship with a horse and how it helps the training process.
¨Creating a bond with your horse is very important because you have to learn how to trust your horse and also how to get your horse to trust you. You also need to create a friendship and a mutual respect relationship with your horse,” Giddens said.
Giddens also explained some ways that she trains her horse.
¨To train a horse, you first have to get them used to halters and lead ropes. This requires walking them daily to get them used to new equipment and people. Then I usually help the horse be comfortable with grooming.” Giddens said, “Next, they’ll learn lunging techniques and eventually I introduce them to the saddle and a person riding them. Once the horse is green broke, I teach them special skills that they would need for different types of shows.”
Gidens trains her horses to be all around horses, starting them in western riding before moving onto english. She makes sure to give her hosues as little treats as possible in training.
“One of my biggest training technique that I use is not giving treats to my horses. My goal for this technique is to not turn the horse into a beggar because if you always give them treats, they will never want to obey you without getting a reward. I reward my horses by a pat and a ‘good girl/boy.’¨ stated Giddens.
WCHS Sophomore Shyanna Cummings explained what it is like to train with sheep.
¨I train year round, starting when they are born in the winter, but competition happens during the summer. I am an animal person, and working with my sheep every week for a year, you can create a bond with the sheep,¨ Cummings said.
Cummings uses techniques like putting a radio in her barn so that the sheep will not be frightened by certain, common noises. and speed up the training process
“There are some techniques that help speed up the training process. If you put a radio in the barn and keep it playing all day and night, then they get used to the noise,” Cummings said.
Cummings says the first step in training sheep is to walk them outside.
“The first time you walk them outside, walk them in circles and don’t go very far from the barn. Then gradually take them farther out. [The] farthest I’ve gone is a mile,” Cummings said. “It’s easier if you have a bond with the sheep because you may not get as frustrated and the sheep won’t be as scared. Sheep are easy to frighten. It takes about a year to train them, but you have to keep on schedule.”
Training any type of animal does take a lot of hard work, dedication and communication. There are many times when the trainer must work for hours at a time. The trainer has to be dedicated to the animal so that they have trust. Training an animal is not easy work.