On the home front, Marsha has been getting involved to a greater extent with the shelter at the Marietta Humane Society. She has become their volunteer coordinator and has created a new team called S.M.A.R.T. (Shelter Matchmaker And Rehab Training). She set herself up with her very own web log yesterday, and tells the story here:

Marsha also wrote up a series of training protocols which she has published under the 2‑Minute Dog Trainer which as a package are intended for the local Shelter and includes seven basic training brochures, intended to enhance the success with integrating the newly adopted shelter dog into a new home.

The whole idea is to help people who adopt shelter dogs to train them in easy steps and make it more likely that they’ll keep the dog.

Each brochure focuses on powerful training methods for teaching important skills to a new dog:

1. choosing the right shelter dog

2. teaching new name and recall

3. housetraining

4. managing destructive behavior

5. greeting friendly strangers

6. walking on a leash

7. calming behaviors for your home

By the way, this 2-Minute Dog Trainer Shelter package is inexpensive and available on our web store. Consider donating it to your local shelter. And, if you really want to do them a favor, get a bunch of copies of each printed up so they are ready to give away to adopters.

Follow the link below to find our web store.

How Cows Handle Horses

or… what dog handlers could learn from cows.


The following was written by Barbara Ray a student, former instructor, and contemporary of mine. Barbara is an advocate for wild and domesticated animals and a true expert in the custodianship of both. I’ve always been impressed that such a knowledgeable person as she is drawn to my theories and teaching of Natural Movement.

How Cows Handle Horses

or…what dog handlers could learn from cows.

Even a cow holds the secret to getting a horse to move, but that is a bit wasted on the cow, who only wants to get back to her herd, and could care less that she possesses the Holy Grail of handling skills: by moving herself a certain way and “painting the horse’s path” as you would say, if you were coaching riders of cutting horses!

Movement is the most under-rated tool in a trainers toolbox in pretty much all of animal training, whether dogs or even a wild animal. (If your nervous bontebok is heading to the left and you need him to turn, a front cross will turn the animal to you if he can see the movement. Turning while he has gone behind a couple trees and has not come out the other side yet will not work!)

The cows don’t know it in the sense of a competition, but they control how a cutting horse moves, when he moves, and which direction he moves. Cows move naturally to get from point A to B, and horses naturally understand their movement and move accordingly. You cannot teach a cutter to cut, you have to let the cows move and you have to let the horse respond. So start the young horse on good cows who will move! Horse-savvy cows will often not move their feet much; they take the approach that they should stand in the middle and let that crazy horse do all the maneuvers around him -usually to no avail. Of course, the horse has no “direction” and his movement (for cutting) is not very good.)

Maybe if we all pretended we were cows, and our dogs were the horses, we could see immediately how effective is our movement, without ever training the dog how he should respond to our moving. Or, better yet, what if we just moved ad watched our dogs move! Haha!

Dogs watch us because they live with us. Wild animals watch us because they survive by paying attention to details around them. And cutting horses watch cows. They all know a lot about how we move, and we can communicate most of what we want them to know, and even entirely create their behavior (path) with it. So us humans need all the movement training we can get, from those who do understand it, meaning, have the ability to coach the handler to allow animals toward behavior with our movement which they already naturally understand. And for those who have never watched a cutting horse, the cow, in attempts to return to the herd, essentially does a Front Cross and the horse turns in toward the cow and changes lead hooves, so to speak! He may do a Post Turn and the horse will wrap around him. He may turn and run and the horse will run a parallel path whether at two feet or twenty. And cows are great at RFP’s, because they think this is going to really trick the horse, but all it accomplishes is resetting the horse’s line. Duh.

Note: The bontebok is an endangered African antelope, now found only on preserves in the Cape. A conservation worker on the preserve uses front crosses to turn them for photo ops for tourists by walking a path parallel to them, then crossing, which turns the antelope toward the visitors!

Barbara and The Symphony of Hounds

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my new publication the Idea BookAgility Training for a Small Universe available at

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One Response to “SMART”

  1. Barbara and The Symphony of Hounds Says:

    I had quite nearly forgotten about the bonteboks and horse-handling cows, but ironically enough, last evening, in our indoor arena, I observed one of the barn cats moving (handling) a horse.

    And with as much efficiency and precision as the cows!

    We have a place at the far end of the arena, (our arena sits on a hill much like your arena,) where the groovy-tongued boards have swelled out with the pressure of so much tonnage of dirt, and horses sliding to a stop pushing the dirt ever further into the end walls, and that gravity thing, that some has finally eroded out at the base, leaving a nice, varmint-sized hole. (Which horses use as an excuse to spook at the mysterious small opening, every time they go by, even though this hole has been there for two years now!)

    In this colder weather, when the barn doors are always shut and often latched down tight too, the barn cats have to find alternate means to get inside the main barn.

    At some point, in favor of waiting for a human to come along and open a door, they figured out they could enter through this hole. None of us has ever tried to repair the hole and defeat the cats at their own game of getting in the main barn so they can sleep cozy on top of the large hay stack. Never mind that they are too lazy to catch mice; if we feigned to kick them out, maybe they would take mousing seriously?

    Oh, wait, they are cats!

    Anyway, one of the boarders had turned her mare (a horse with no ‘cutting horse’ breeding at all) out into the arena, and while the mare was nosing around toward that end of the arena, one of the cats darted in the hole, and suddenly realised he was facing the largest mouse of his life, a giant eleven hundred pounder with HUGE eyes staring intently with 150% focus. (This was clearly a slingshot start, no startline stay with the hinky stationary lead out pre-cues!)

    Since the cat had darted in and to the left, he was not in position to just turn and dart out. This would require that he breach the ‘path’ the horse held merely with her body FACING the direction to left of the hole.

    Instead, he swung to the left further, but the horse immediately turned and ran a parallel line to him, so he did a front cross to the right, and you will NEVER guess what happened…the mare turned in toward him and then ran parallel THAT direction.

    REALLY fast, because the cat accelerated. Then he suddenly decelerated, and she ducked in a bit closer.

    The harder the cat tried to NOT make the horse move by moving HIMSELF, the more accurately the horse responded to his front crosses.

    She worked at a distance of about 14 feet from him, which must have seemed like a mere two feet to the cat!

    I started watching HOW he did his crosses, and noticed an attribute we have to work hard at our entire lives: he did not “reach” for the horse with his front limbs at all. Oh no, he clearly PULLED his shoulders AWAY from her.

    But he did kind of have a gay flail going with his tail!

    …After a few back and forth reps of this, he finally got the nerve to dart back out the hole, but the mare could not see his movement to the left after this, so she did not successfully make the turn, she just stopped, then resumed her nosing around as if her ‘handler’ did not exist.

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