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Equine Scent Detection Rewrites
The Book On Natural Horsemanship

The horse is displaying sign language that shows he is using scent detection and that the scent source is close.

In order to be successful at equine air scent detection, you will have to expand existing horsemanship philosophy. Ever since the first horse was domesticated, it has been generally thought of as a beast of burden, a mode of transportation or a pet. The air scenting detection horse is different. It is one of the few, or possibly the first job, that man has given the horse where it is expected to think and act all on its own in an open environment. I personally have proven this many times during public demonstrations to people when I turn my horses free, and they air scent, search and find a training subject or scent source all on their own.

Having spent time researching mustangs by personal observation and from previous studies. I have found that some of the same natural abilities that the mustang uses to survive in the wild are also used in scent detection. The most important of these are air scent locating, use of silent alert signals (sign language), thinking and curiosity. It will be necessary that you develop an awareness of these abilities and encourage the horse to utilize them in order to learn scent detection.

While training, you have to change the way you have been programmed to think.   Years of riding horses and using existing traditional training methods have taught you that the rider should be in control of most every movement that your horse makes. Your horse also has to be deprogrammed. Since day one of his experiences with humans, he has learned that he should only act the way that man directs him. You now must instill in both the horse and yourself that at times the horse will need to act completely independently from the rider. Negative reinforcement is mainstream in traditional horsemanship while positive and self reinforcement is the mainstay in my scent detection training program.

When training and searching on an air scenting detection horse, you will have to form a true partnership with your mount. While trying to locate a scent source, the horse will act on instinct and training, it's your job to use reason. A large portion of the time the rider will be merely an observer. You will have the best seat in the house to witness an instinctive phenomena from your horse that most people never before thought possible.

Using equine scent locating is natural horsemanship in it purest form. By developing training methods for and using scent detection equine, I have taken natural horsemanship farther than anyone has in the last 100 years. I was able to do this because there was a necessity to add another much needed tool for search and rescue purposes. In order to achieve my goal, reading equine sign language and predicting their behavior became a necessity. (Please read the Experience the Thrill page and Clinics page)

If I was asked to pick one single success story that proves how my unique training program (which uses natural communication from the horse) can be beneficial for use in the everyday horse world as far as making you and your horse a true team, it would be the following competition, in which my first proven scenting horse and I competed.

We won the individual patrol horse obstacle competition put on by Wadena County, MN, Mounted Patrol and Wadena Sheriff's Dept. on March 29 and 30, 2003. We won this competition with a perfect score of 180 points out of a possible 180 points. This was a major competition attended by approximately 60 entries coming from all over the state of Minnesota. We also placed second as a part of a three-man team in the team competition. Storm is just turning five years old, and this was his first competition.

Why Horses Learn Scent Detection Training So Quickly

I have trained and shown horses for many different events. Horses learn scent locating faster and retain the training longer than any of the different types of training that I have given them  because it is natural for them . The other types of training we give horses is not natural. The following is a example how horses in the wild use air scenting.

In a effort to increase my knowledge on equine natural scenting ability and equine sign language, I was trying to get as close as possible to a herd of wild mustangs. The small herd was on top of a rocky butte trying to catch what little breeze there was on a hot summer day. As I approached the hill, I could see that the side that faced me looked like a horizontal sheer rock cliff which gave me a false sense of security. As I approached closer, I kept an eye on the herd stallion with my binoculars. All of a sudden I noticed a silent signal from the stallion that I knew meant he had spotted me, which alone did not bother me. Then another signal, this one was a unmistakable shake of his head, which from prior experience told me the wild stallion was very disturbed with my presence so close to his herd that included two young foals. Instantly, the stallion spun around and dove for the rock cliff at a lope. (What I assumed was a rock cliff was really only a steep, inclined rocky slope.) He half slid down the rock slope, veering to the right and left without stopping in order to avoid jagged rocks with the ease of a downhill skier. I knew I was in trouble and had to retreat as quickly as possible. The stallion's difficult journey down the rocky butte gave enough time for me to find a safe observation point. As I watched the stallion, it was very clear he was using air scenting in a effort to locate me. As I continued my retreat with a watchful eye on the stallion, he still advanced toward me right along my tracks. At this point I could see that what started out as an aggressive gesture now turned into only curiosity as the stallion showed a strong interest in my path. As you see, the natural scent locating even takes place in the wild.

Benefits of Equine Scent Detection

Why should you train for scent locating with your horse if you are not involved in search and rescue or with law enforcement? The answer is that scent locating training will help you read your horse better than you ever thought possible. Think of scent detection training as a freeway that you will need to travel, which will force you to read and listen to your horse. This freeway will speed you along the quickest way to understanding your horse's sign language.

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