Into the Burning Building
If I told you to go into a burning building... would you? If I shoved you in, how would you feel about me? If I hit you and kicked you, would you think "Why sure I'll go in for you!" Even if I was nice and you liked me, would you just step right in? Even if you trusted me would you go in without any hesitation?
Making/forcing your horse to 'accept' scary things is a much less reliable method than giving horse a little time to learn how to differentiate between what is really scary and what really isn't. If you give them exposure and opportunity to explore without pressure, they then learn to trust you. They learn how to handle spooky situations and they learn how to handle pressure when the two of you are in a spooky situation. As they learn that you'll let them investigate, they'll need less time to investigate and just trust you.
Instead of having a horse spook for the rest of its life and taking the time to attempt to get thru it, why not give them a little time in the first place to avoid it? Just a little patience folks. This is the long-short way.
Love Your Horse?
This is the first part of one of the books I'm working on.
There is a romance to horses. Throughout recorded time, on all continents, save those two icy ones, horses have been admired, loved, written about, drawn, painted, ridden, bred. Galloping horses with manes flying, bareback and bridle-less pounding along sandy beaches at the foamy water’s edge. What teenage girls dreams are made of. And a lot of adults.
We have a love affair with horses. Would anyone argue with that sentence? Yet, if we dissect it…
We have a love affair “with” horses. With. Preposition – a long word for many of the shortest words in our vocabulary. Yet, what strong words they are. Since horses are creatures and not inanimate objects such as, for instance, tables, we tend to say ‘love affair with’ horses. We don’t have love affairs with tables. Even if it’s a really great looking table. But the word ‘with’ implies reciprocation. Something that goes both ways. Which then begs the question: Do horses love us? Do they or can they have a ‘love affair with’ us? How do they show this, if so? Why do we so desperately want to believe our horse loves us? And what, pray tell, do we do to deserve their love?
If we love horses so much, how do we explain the stalls, cross-ties, spurs, whips and chains over the nose, just to name a few? If we love horses so much, why the general consensus by ‘top trainers’ in the world that horses are merely reactionary, don’t think and must be treated like a young child because they don’t understand much? Why is this thought process accepted instead of questioned? Says who? Someone who hasn’t watched horses closely, I’d say. Someone who maybe accepted those statements from their trainer and never questioned them.
Most horse people say they love their horse. What the devil does that mean? I love looking at my horse? I love telling people I have a horse? I love telling people I ride? I love saying I’m a trainer? When you love something, do you do what’s best for it or what’s most convenient for you?
A while back, a trainer started bringing her horses to me. Her personal horses, clients’ horses she had in training and Mustangs she was preparing for the challenges. She wanted me to teach the horses how to come to her at liberty amongst other things. She didn’t particularly want to learn how to get the horses to come; she wanted me to do it because it only takes me 15 minutes or so. I still tried to teach her; dragging her all over from behind to get her in the right position and basically operating her like a puppet, but…
As she brought each horse, I noticed recurring symptoms.
Ready for the Unexpected??
If your horse spun or bolted or more likely both, would you be able to handle it? Would you know how to stay balanced at a gallop? I know people who have had horses for decades and only plan to walk on trail. While that may be what you plan... plans OFTEN go arye. "Plans"... as D. Eisenhower said, "are useless. However, planning is indispensable." So, maybe the question to ask is: Are you prepared for what might happen?
If you're working with your horse online or in a pen and you ask him to canter for the first time, how do you expect that to go? Do you think he's just going to, very calmly, on request, go into the canter smoothly, stay on the rail, softly bent and quietly without a jot of jump or anxiety?
If that's what you think - give it a go and please email me as soon as you get back in to your 'puter. Cuz that ain't what's going to happen. As a matter of fact, the expectation of what you think is going to happen is usually why you don't want to ask your horse to canter in the first place. Folks are of the mistaken notion that if they don't ever canter their horse the horse will know they don't want to canter.
So, wouldn't it be better to ask your horse to get used to you giving a signal to canter and letting him have enough time to get it smooth and slow so IN CASE something happened on the trail he'd have some idea of how you'd like it to go?
I don't care if you never want to canter on trail - but please go thru some of the training on line or in a pen before hand. Knowledge is power. You might just want to know what's in store for you the first time - especially if that first time happens to be out on the trail.