Trainer uses gentle touch to earn horse’s respect

Body language key | Trainer uses round pen to build relationship between horse and rider

RED DEER — The most important message from Russ Krachun’s horse training clinics isn’t about hand position or leg aids — it’s love.

“Everything comes from your heart,” said Krachun, one of three trainers who competed in the trainers’ challenge at the Mane Event horse expo and show in Red Deer.

“If you want to touch an animal, bring your heart into your hands and transfer this energy and love.… In my clinics, I teach people how to respect horses.”

Krachun, who grew up in Odessa, Ukraine, a seaport on the Black Sea, created his own horse as a child out of a stick, a pillow tied in the middle and his father’s belt as a bridle. It wasn’t until his father took him to see the 1960s western movie The Magnificent Seven when he was six that he realized his calling would involve horses.

Krachun’s mother recognized his love of horses and introduced him to an uncle who taught him the ways of his Cossack ancestors. His mother’s family was killed in the Second World War and its land confiscated by the government.

Through his uncle, Krachun started to learn about horses.

“He and my parents teach me how to love animals.”

Krachun emigrated to Ontario 15 years ago, where he established a horsemanship program based on his unique history and skills.

“With your body language, you can accomplish so much,” said Krachun, who emphasized gentleness during his three one-hour training sessions at the trainers’ challenge, where each trainer was given a halter broke horse to train during the sessions.

Krachun emphasized gentleness while teaching the horse to accept the bit and the saddle. He rubbed the horse’s face and body, repeatedly tossing on a blanket and then removing it

“I want her to learn how to control her emotions. My hands all the time bring love to her.”

Before putting on the saddle, Krachun wrapped a cotton rope around the horse’s girth and tightened it gently before releasing it. He repeated this several times to let the horse know that something new may be happening but that there would eventually be relief from the pressure.

A round pen is another important aid for Krachun.

He has created the 20 Steps in the Round Pen program, which he believes is key to giving the horse and rider a solid, safe start.

“The round pen is the foundation.”

The horse and rider can start to build a strong relationship of trust in a round pen, he added.

Krachun has turned his 20-step program into an e-book, the first of many e-books and videos he hopes to create for riders and trainers.

“I want to transfer to my son and everyone all my education my parents taught me on how to love people and animals.”

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