Renowned horse trainer Kerry Kuhn ended his second problem solving clinic at the 3i Show on Friday afternoon on horseback, riding a 9-year-old, never-ridden mare around the arena set upside the Western Bank Expo Center in Dodge City.
Kuhn started working with the mare during his first problem solving clinic on Thursday. He also showed off progress with a 3-year-old colt that had also never been ridden before the show.
"Things went faster with the colt because he has had less time to reinforce his wrong mental attitude," Kuhn explained to the audience. "This mare has had nine years of doing things her way."
Early in the second session, Kuhn loosely fashioned a lariat around the mare's flanks – something she had proven repeatedly that she absolutely hated. As he tightened the lariat and pushed her to trot in a circle while he held onto her halter, the mare jumped, reared and bucked.
"It's important when you are doing this to let the horse do whatever she wants to do to protest," he said. "I let her buck, kick and try to throw off the rope, all the while keeping in place."
Kuhn talked about, and demonstrated, how to safely handle an animal many times his size, as he worked with the mare.
"Don't let her push into you with her hind quarters," he said. "That sets you up to be kicked."
Instead, he said, you need to stay at the front of the animal and keep her face close, turning repeatedly to force her to keep her face close.
After a few minutes of enthusiastic kicking and bucking the mare settled down and began a steady circle of trotting, for which she was immediately rewarded with a rest break.
"One reason that I let the horse kick and buck at will is that kind of activity is hard work. Pretty soon, she starts to think about how hard she's working and it isn't accomplishing what she wants. The rope is still there. So maybe just accepting that is an easier way."