Dave's training begins by staying connected to the horse with a 14-foot Chris Cox halter and lead rope. He never makes direct eye-to-eye contact which is a form of submission. All schooling is done from the ground at the end of a lead rope prior to getting into the saddle. (shown, Kind Eyes Legacy, Midwest Mustang Challenge)
Direct and drive, a tool used in moving the horse in a given direction, teaches them to go past you, turn about, and give you two eyes, proving trust. Direct and drive provides a means to send the horse through openings such as gates and doorways and into stalls, eventually leading to trailer loading. This provides safety for the handler in being able to point the horse on to a trailer rather than leading on board. (see Midwest Mustang Mare, Kind Eyes, on left; Extreme Mustang Makover, Slick, on right).
Several techniques are used including lateral flexion, disengagement and direct and drive. These techniques and others can be learned through Dave's individualized one and two-day natural horsemanship clinics.
Dave uses natural horsemanship and gentle methods in his training philosophy. His techinque evolves around connecting with the horse in the same manner as a mare moves her foal for the first time, and a more mature horse shows dominance by controlling the rear end of another horse. (See techniques used during training of mustangs for the 2007 Extreme Mustang Makeover and the 2008 Midwest Mustang Challenge.)
Lateral flexion is done from both sides of the horse -from the ground during early training, and from the saddle once riding. Lateral flexion is accomplished by bending the head and neck around, and pulling the head into the body until it almost reaches the side. The flexion is complete when the horse gives or releases to the pressure. More than one out of control horse has been stopped in its tracks through the use of lateral flexion, a well-learned emergency brake, (shown with Slick).
Disengagement is a means of unlocking the rear end of the horse, the area known as the powerhouse of the horse… a must for early control. To be done correctly: when standing along the left side of the horse (or the right), the left rear crosses on the inside of the right hind leg when the trainer steps into the quarter and gives a sign through twirl of the rope. This is not just a sidestepping maneuver, but a disengagement of the rear end, which can also be done easily from the saddle with practice.