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PNH and Police Training

As promised: PNH and policetraining. I had the great opportunity to go to a (few hours) clinic, with my horse, at the police-horse training centre where all policehorses in our country get their training. Even Germany, Belgium and France buy trained police-horses from this training-centre. The mounted police in Europe only uses the big 17-18 hh warmblood-types, because of the beautifull view from above I think? :-)

I started outside with some PNH games. They have a big playground around the arena, with such a 'stairs-jump' thing were I could send my horse to jump up, and one level higher, and again one level higher, and down again, like Pat shows on is tapes. What a great opportunity! And he did it without any concerns!

After we got some theories about the training and to train horses to be not affraid of all those things those panicaholics odd to be affraid for (approach and retreive), we had to practice in the big arena. There were four big European Warmbloods, one Icelandic horse, one Andalusian horse and two purebread Arabs (one was mine, the beautiful red with the ugly white face on the photo's).

Those police-officers put all kind of stuff in the arena, like big beach-umbrellas, flags, surf-sails, a *big* ball and a little wagon with flashing-lights/sirenes on it. At first we had to circle around, like those things weren't there. Most horses were affraid of some of the things, but in line with the other horses those feelings just passed.

The basic thing as our police instructor said: just ride and don't pull the reins! That is very dfficult if your horse jumps away or starts running, but if you pull he stays affraid and if you just passenger he only jumps/runs for a few steps and then start to look at those scary things and see that they don't move and jump on you. The difference is amazing. After all horses (and riders!) could cope with that, we had to ride between two lines of beach-umbrella's that were put about 10 feet away from each other. Again there were horses affraid and some were not. The first group was learning very fast from the last group and again when all horses could cope with the big beach-umbrella's, the police-trainer made a smaller gap and we had to start all over again. When he was moving the umbrella's, some horse were panicing again, but they were learning fast.

The same happened with riding between two walls covered with plastic. The Andalusian horse was playing with it and pulled the plastic off of the wall!

But the others were a little scary, asspecially the arabs. I was very proud of my horse Tovatsj - he was very affraid of all those things, but I only had to ask to go through and he did!! Look at the attached photo's: he lookes like he had no food or water for a week. :-) BTW, I was the only one riding with the rope hackamore. I started with a snaffle, but Tovatsj was doing better than myself. I realized I was jerking on that snaffle without any reason (lack of confidence?), so I put it away and ride with the rope hackamore with much slack in the reins and we were doing much better. I *had* to trust him and myself that way and it worked!

With the plastic walls the appoach was the same as with the umbrellas: at first the gap between was about 10 feet, we ride through. After all horses were settled with that, the walls were put more and more together, until the gap was only one horse and two knees wide and the plastic was blocking the entrance of the gap. Even the most spooky horse went through! To make it even more difficult, the trainer stood at the other side of the plastic, to move it and make noise with the plastic. All horses could even cope with that in a very short time.

We did the same with two surfboard-sails that were put up. At first we were circling around them. When all horses were settled, we had to ride between the sails trough a wide gap. Then the gap was made smaller and smaller, untill the horse had to search with his nose for the opening between the two sails. It was amazing to see all horses do it without concern. We also had a loud sirene and yellow and blue flashing lights to deal with. First one of the police-officers turned the lights on while we were circling around. And off, and on again. Then he turned the 'softest' sirene on. A few horses were spooky, but others weren't reacting at all, so the scary ones were relaxing in a short amount of time. And my Tovatsj? Look at the photo: he was the most relaxed one! Even when the police officer climbed on top of that noisy little wagon.

The nicest thing for Tovatsj was a mattress the horses had to walk on. All horses the first time jumped over it with a *wide* jump, but Tovasj didn't even look at the thing: he put his front feet on the mattrass and stamped one feet on it again and again! All spectators were laughing.

At this we cheat a little: at home we play a game on a little bridge/seesaw - on my sign he stamps on it with the one foot I ask for, left or right, and he will get some treat. But on the other hand, the mattress is a different thing, all coloured and soft. He didn't matter, though.

The most scary thing for Tovatsj was the *big* red ball. Only the ball, laying there, was okay. But when there was sitting a police-officer on top of it - oh no! Well, the man was sitting there for a while, and still he was a living creature. Oh, well, it had to be okay then. But when all horses had to stand around the ball in a circle, Tovatsj was the most fearfull of all.

The Adalusian (again!) was mad about the big ball and gave a big push to it to play with it. Tovatsj and me were just on the other side, so the ball 'jumped' at us and made Tovatsj turn around on his hind legs and take off. And, relaxed and confident as I was at that time, I didn't pull the reins. He did only two jumps and turned around to see if the ball was coming after him. Well, it didn't, and the other horses seemed to like it...?!

After being around the ball for a while, the trainer suggested to play a game with only Tovatsj and the other Arab, both on one side. With a little persuation I made him put his chest to the ball, so the ball was moving away from him. Let him think for a moment, asked again to go after the ball and *yes*, he was playing!

When all horses were settled with the ball, we had to line up and the police-officer took the ball. He put it on top of his head, like Atlantis carying Earth. When all horses were settled again, he let the ball go while facing us, and it bounced on the ground behind (!) him. No horse was spooky about that. Even when he was bouncing the ball around like he starts to play basketball with it, the horses seemed confident with it.

Well, that was all. :-)
No bombs, no shooting, no smoke.
But much confidence and friendlies!!

Best regards, vriendelijke groet,
Karin Schouwenburg, the Netherlands

Surround the ball!
Police Training

Stepping across the mattress
Police Training

Carrying the Flag
Police Training

Passing the black plastic
Police Training

Checking out the search light
Police Training

Squeezing between the surf sails
Police Training

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