You know horses do not have the ability to reason, which is the reason horse training is such a challenge. You have to understand how they think so you will know what works and the reason it works.
The secret to making a horse trainable is their fear of pain and punishment, which has been over the centuries instilled in their minds. We can use that fear to our advantage to teach a horse what we want him to do.
We know about horse’s fear, however we can’t abuse that knowledge by pushing the horse too far with his fear. It can and usually will backfire on you. Once it backfires you will have trouble with the horse you are trying to train.
One of the first lessons a horse needs to learn is to have confidence in you. Without the confidence in you, the horse will never trust you. Both of these things are the keys to horse training.
There are several ways to teach the horse to have confidence in you. Here is one that’s been around since the 1800s. It is also the easiest way to teach your horse to have confidence in you.
This confidence lessons takes advantage of but never abuses the horse’s fear. The fear is harnessed in a way and is carefully used to get the horse’s confidence in you. It is not much different from getting a child to watch a scary movie and being there to protect him when he gets scared.
When the horse gets scared you need to be there to protect him and tell him everything is okay. You can do this through petting him and talking to him to sooth his fears. Using a pleasant tone of voice. Essentially you will become the horse’s superhero and he will come to depend on that.
Here is an example that will give you an idea of what we are talking about. A person is riding with a group of people and they come across a large creek. Everyone else’s horse crosses the water with no problems, but person’s horse won’t cross the creek.
The rider gets upset and starts booting his horse in the ribs. The poor horse wants to do as the rider is asking, but the running water has him scared. The horse starts pacing back and forth, occasionally sniffing at the water but won’t cross it. The whole time the rider is still kicking the horse in the ribs.
If the rider had stopped to think about it, he may have know that the horse was just scared and not being disobedient. The horse needed his help. The horse need him to talk to him in a soothing voice and petting him.
By doing what he did, the rider just gave the horse another reason to fear the running water. Not only is he going to continue to be afraid of running water, but is also afraid he is going to be punished for it.
Now let’s look at it from the horse’s point of view.
You are the horse that cannot reason. You’re instincts are self-preservation. Fear keeps the self-preservation in check. Fear makes you run from danger. It is that fear that keeps you alive.
Now let’s thing like the rider’s horse must think. You are standing at the edge of the running water. You dare not cross it because you think there is some kind of danger there. On top of that you have a person on your back who is pissed off and kicking you in the ribs because you won’t step into the water and continue moving forward.
Now you are not only afraid of the running water, but you are feeling punished too. You want to obey, but your instincts are too strong and tell you not to.
If the rider of that horse had realized his horse was afraid as they approached the water and realized it wasn’t disobedience causing him not to cross the water, the rider could have spoken softly in a soothing tone of voice. He could have petted the horse and let him know it was okay. He could even have let the horse sniff the water and check it out for himself.
Instead, he now has a confused, scared horse who is feeling punished and is less trusting of the rider. The end of this story could have been different, if the rider had reacted different. Remember your horse is counting on you to be their superhero and that means knowing the difference between them being scared and them being disobedient.