Debbie Roberts Loucks: 5 things 'Sequestrians' can do at this time

Debbie Roberts Loucks: 5 things 'Sequestrians' can do at this time

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MUG: Roberts Loucks and Bunny

Debbie Loucks with the family's horse, Bunny, which is short for "Steel Buns." 

While creating videos for equestrians that are currently quarantined – or sequestered – at home, it made perfect sense to also create a hashtag campaign for those using this time to learn more with their horses: #sequestrian.

Whether you have access to a horse or not, there are plenty of skills to learn and to practice. Here are five things you can do:

  • 1) Horsepersons should have, in their muscle memory, at least three knots they can tie without even thinking about the process: a Bowline, a Clove Hitch and a quick-release knot.

The Bowline is both easy to tie, and most importantly, easy to untie, even after being subjected to heavy pulling. It creates a non-slip loop that won’t tighten down onto the object you’ve tied it to.

The Clove Hitch knot is great for securing things to your saddle horn, and will hold your lead rope on the saddle horn perfectly. You can use it to attach a rope to a pole or ring and secure enough to prevent the knot from sliding along the pole. This can keep horses spaced along a hitching rail, and is still a somewhat quick-release knot. It is a knot which can hold things together or pull things like a log that would otherwise allow to slip.

A quick-release knot is fast and easy to tie, making it especially useful for tying horses. But the real value of the quick release knot lies in its ability to be easily untied in the event of an emergency. If a horse panics while tied and pulls back on the rope, a single tug on the end of the lead will free him.

  • 2) While sequestered indoors, equestrians can catch up on video lessons from trusted horse trainers. Monty Roberts Online University has 608 video lessons to catch up on, to date. Challenge yourself to go beyond the 'How To' level of online video lessons and look into the reasons why horses respond to training methods. Those equestrians who train from the horse's vantage, rather than blindly duplicating the traditional methodologies, have the advantage of creating a trusting partnership with their horse rather than a blind obedience.

The Certified Horsemanship Association has been around for over 50 years and is all about education for the horse professional. They have been trusted providers of certification clinics across disciplines and provide many free videos to help prepare for testing. They encourage all horse persons to take advantage of their resources.

  • 3) When have you ever have time to read more – or re-read those horse stories that moved you deeply than now? Black Beauty was uniquely written from the horse’s viewpoint and is a classic. Anna Sewell was the English novelist who authored the 1877 novel, then died a year later at 28. The book is now considered one of the top 10 bestselling novels for children ever written, even if it was written for adults. The Man Who Listens to Horses spent 58 weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list in 1997 which was unheard of for a horse book, much less an autobiography. Monty Roberts who was asked by Queen Elizabeth II to pen his story, led a revolution in the way horses were trained, violence-free.

Another great way to read and learn about the nature of horses, and how to train them, is by reading other horse lover’s questions and a bank of tried and true answers. There is an free archive of 804 reader’s questions and Monty Roberts’ answers compiled since 2004 in a searchable database, updated weekly.

  • 4) Groundwork is undervalued: spend time practicing and playing with your horse at the barn, in the arena or the pasture. Achieving Join-Up with your horse (or a friend’s horse), is one of those experiences every equestrian should have. It is body language communication that builds trust between you and your horse.

Groundwork is the foundation of trust, even ground driving can be the best way to keep your training going if your horse cannot be ridden or you cannot ride. Exchange ideas with your friends online who are also exploring fun things with their horses that they might not normally have the time for. It is something you can do without a trainer or any additional specialty equipment.

  • 5) Spend online face time with horsey friends sharing your adventures listed above and more. Social isolation doesn’t have to be without communication. Community is even more important now than it was a few months ago. If you have a smart phone, go online with an app like Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, Goog le Hangouts, WhatsApp or other clever ways to stay in touch and share. If you have a computer with a webcam, that works at home too. Watch for online parties where horsey friends are getting together to read, sing or chat about their day. Partake! Share! You will feel more connected with people, and horses too.

This should be an encouragement to horse lovers everywhere (#Sequestrians) who feel a bit lost as to how to use this extraordinary time. I always credit horse persons for being level-headed and practical in moments that might cause others to go into a tail-spin. Get social by posting on social media what you are learning and practicing, and we can all feel like a community again.

You can follow Debbie Roberts Loucks on her popular podcast Horsemanship Radio. For details about the upcoming summer event, visit For questions, call Flag Is Up Farms at 805-688-6288


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