Welcome to the Cardinal Points Farm blog !

Dear friends and fellow animal lovers, here it is ... a blog to discuss training.

My specialty is horse training and dressage, but I’ve applied to my horses many invaluable lessons from other animal trainers. Together we can create a greater awareness of the unlimited potential for greatness that your animals (and you) possess, once you acknowledge that many animal species are intelligent and capable of reasoning and communication.

So let’s get started ! Let's share insights, lesson plans, techniques, videos, pics, stories ... what have you.


Sian Min The
Cardinal Points Farm

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If you'd like to post your training stories, send your stories to me for consideration. Please specify how you'd like the attribution to read, i.e. your full name or your online name.

There's something about

There's something about these dogs which is both admirable and crazy; they think they have superpowers. I experienced this recently on a journey with my husband and four of our Amstaffs when we took them to a river, one at a time, each carefully on leash and safe collars, each expressing their own individual personality. My three year old bitch, So White, achieved her superpower status on this trip by finding the rapids and riding them repeatedly until we pulled her out. She's a wee thing, under 35 lbs, but her hair was erect, she fought her way upstream, biting at the current, scrabbled over the smooth rock dam, and rode down the rapids. The look on her face was one of triumph, intense satisfaction, and total obsession.

Fear of riding

It’s one of the most frustrating and helpless feelings: you love your horse, yet your knees quake and you can feel your heart in your throat at the thought of getting in the saddle and, heaven forbid, ride your horse ... in a canter!

If you’re committed to make riding your horse a mutually enjoyable experience, you must first come to terms with your fear, and acknowledge that it exists. This is a very difficult first step so don’t trivialize it, and don’t let anyone else do so either. Fear is real, even though its cause may only be perceptible to you.

Unless your horse is a rabid, proven man-eater, or otherwise unsafe (i.e. the most seasoned professional is unwilling to ride it), the solution lies in the relationship you have with your horse.

We tend to fear (or at best be suspicious of) strangers; human or animal. Why? Because no relationship yet exists with a stranger, and you cannot know a stranger’s intent. For one thing, you may not share a common language. Just like in the relationships you have with people, a common language is crucial for communication and, eventually, trust.

Would you still be as fearful if you could ask your horse to slow down and relax, and it actually does? How about if you could explain to your horse that the plastic bag being blown by the wind is not an evil ghoul about to attack? Wouldn't it be great if your horse then responds by relaxing its ears and sighing?

Once you and your horse have a way to communicate with each other, you can both focus more on learning and enjoying each other, rather than on surviving a heart-stopping experience with an unfamiliar beast.

How do I know ? I’ve been there.

Who's it about ?

I believe that to be a good animal trainer (or owner, handler, caretaker, ...) we must ask ourselves: is it about the animal, or is it about me ?

It's human nature to require validation from other humans. Thus, we are all self-conscious, and worry about what others think of us. We have to be; otherwise, the sense of "right" or "wrong" has no bearing in human society.

However, when training animals, there are times we must set that aside for the benefit of the animal. We must not resort to cruelty and coercion to make the dog sit at all costs, to make the horse canter at all costs, just so we can satisfy a requirement in a show, or impress our friends.

Does this mean that from time to time we may end up with the proverbial egg on our faces ? Or look silly? Absolutely. But we must chalk it up to experience, and laugh (or write a blog) about it later. Don't get me wrong, there are times I wish I took up needlepoint instead. At these times, I remind myself: whatever my horse, or my dog, does under my tutelage - whether at home or at a show, whether correctly or not - he/she does to accommodate me. Now that's humbling.


I'm indebted to Kayce Cover and to Julie Kinsey (one of the best dog trainers around), for opening my eyes to the intelligence and souls of the animals with whom we, humans, are privileged to share the planet.
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