RESPONSE WITH RESPECT A horse unlike a human does not understand love. However, a horse needs a leader and to a degree a friend. Keeping this in mind it is very important to remain the leader and always demand respect from your horse. As a herd animal, the hierarchy within a herd demands that a horse must respect the herd and depend on the herd leader to keep it safe at all times. Through domestication, you have become the herd and your horse will look to you to keep it safe at all times. A good leader is one that is strong, assertive, fair and compassionate and always looking out for the horse’s well-being and safety. Being a good leader enables the horse to become the lower member of the herd and then will happily and willingly make every effort to comply with and understand the lessons being taught. Respect must be gained and maintained at all times and is easily lost if not demanded consistently. A horse will always look for a way to become a leader if given an opportunity. Therefore, if you wish to have control over your horse, you must, without question, maintain leadership qualities and never let the horse take over at any time. Horses will bond closely to any person that have the qualities that they need. Self preservation and comfort are foremost to the horse and they are lost within themselves if they do not feel safe. There are times when a horse needs reminding that what it wants isn’t what you want or in the horse’s best interest. A horse thinks it is never wrong. So, when the horse is doing something that you would prefer it didn’t or in your opinion is “wrong”, then it is very important to present to the horse a “difficult” or “it doesn’t profit you” approach. If we remember that with the right things made easy and the wrong things made difficult, a horse will separate what it thinks it should do to what it thinks you are trying to get across to it. A horse is not always sure of the lesson being taught and will often try different things that are incorrect. In this way the horse is trying to please you and it is up to you as the herd leader to offer the horse praise when it gets the right answer or attempts to get the right answer. Through repetition the lesson then becomes a habit. The horse has no reasoning powers whatsoever and is a conditioned response animal. Armed with that understanding it is your responsibility to guide the horse instead of expecting it to know and understand. A horse will always look for the easiest way out of every situation.
This is why it is so important to offer your horse an easy solution to everything you do or wish to do. This will result in the horse being more comfortable and increase its desire to learn without hesitation or resistance. The power of a horse comes from behind its mid-section. By controlling this part of its body you gain control over the horse’s body and mind. This is important as we want to leave a lasting impression on the mind of the horse. The horse because of its lack of reasoning powers has no idea of its own power and at no time do we want the horse to learn its power. In knowing the mechanics of the movement of a horse, it allows us to have the ability to control the horse in many ways. This control then extends to the mind of the horse. In the next example, I will assume that the horse has already been started and has at least been handled. Let us assume that a rider has caught their horse. It has a halter and lead rope on and the rider wishes the horse to stand still for grooming or mounting. The horse decides it will walk around instead of standing still. This is not only annoying to the rider but is a sign of disrespect from the horse and can endanger the rider. The rider must use the knowledge of mechanics to gain respect back as follows. ON THE GROUND The horse is moving rather than standing still. Take the lead rope or rein about 2 foot from the halter or bit and walking briskly down the side of the horse directly to the hip. This causes the horse’s head to bend to the direction of the rider. This also causes the hindquarters of the horse to step away from the rider. if the horse stands with bent neck and does not move the hindquarters away, give the horse a smack over the rump with the end of the lead rope or rein to encourage it to move. Depending on the severity of the disrespect turn the horse around either one or two full revolutions. Keep the same amount of pull on the line and keep in the same position near the horses hip. This exercise not only controls the horse’s body but it has a huge impact on the horse’s mind. The horse will think that the rider has the power of control that the horse is not able to evade.
As the horse has no reasoning power, it therefore cannot understand how it happened. The horse knows that it was uncomfortable and from this the horse now becomes malleable and softer in the riders hands and respectful of the rider. At this point the horse will stand still and must be told to do so in a firm assertive tone. “STAND STILL”. Every time the horse misbehaves for whatever reason repeat the operation and with repetition the problems will dissipate and more respect will be gained. IN THE SADDLE When we have disrespect in the saddle we use a similar approach to correct the horse from bucking, rearing, running away or not standing still. We have three basic rein positions when sitting on the horse. Casual, concentrated and controlled. This is best done with a plain snaffle or tom thumb bit with side bars. Casual is with a float in the reins, concentrated is when the reins are shortened and held in each hand and in a position where they can be used to direct the horse. Controlled is where we slide one hand down the rein half way so we can angle the horse’s head around to the side in varying degrees. As an example, you are riding along in a concentrated rein position and attitude and the horse decides it would like to go home and it quickens the pace. If possible always do your best to be with your horse or even be one step in front of your horse in regards to its thinking. It is important to be a rider and not merely passenger. The horse’s pace is starting to quicken. In this example, I will assume you will use your left hand. While holding the right rein loosely, slide your left hand down the left rein halfway and draw the horses head out to the side. Quickly then bring your hand back to your belly button. At the same time twist in the saddle and look back at the near side hind foot while pressing your left leg into the near side rib of the horse just behind the normal riding leg position. That sequence of mechanics will cause the horse to stop and turn the rear quarter to the opposite direction. Keep the pressure up for at least one complete revolution. The second part of this operation is when the horse has done one complete turn. Take the rein hand from your stomach area and put it on your left knee while at the exact same time push your left foot and weight in
the stirrup forward while looking down at the near side front foot and hold that position until the horse stops that one foot. By stopping that one foot the other three must stop and the horse will stand stopped with head bent around towards your knee. Hold that position for the count of 20 seconds to impress the horse that you have absolute power over its movements. Hold the rein now in the right hand and rub the horses forehead to let it know all is well. A horse has to be able to move its feet to feel safe and you have now proven to the horse that you are the herd leader. The horse will then feel powerless over you. This method will control bucking, rearing, running away or not slowing down and is also valuable with a scared horse because if you can stop the feet you can ride the most terrified horse. There are some horses that do not want to stand still for dismounting and if the above is employed that problem is solved. Do the above exercises at home in a safe environment in a very slow and concise manner and train your horse to accept what you offer. Do both exercises on both sides to train each side of the horseâ€™s brain and get the horse fully conversant with the knowledge that you have absolute power over it under any situation. Remember that horses are conditioned response animals. The more conditioning you offer the horse the better response you can expect. It is not practice that makes perfect. It is perfect practice that makes perfect. Always use assertiveness and never aggression. If you feel you are getting mad at any time and have run out of knowledge, get off your horse and tie it up in the shade and leave it there while you have a rest yourself. After say 30 minutes, go back and start again and 99% of the time the partnership will have improved to a more balanced place. If your horse is persistent in poor behavior, tie it up in the shade for 2 to 4 hours every day until its attitude starts to change for the better. There are two things that really make good horses, the first is standing tied for long periods and the other is many miles at the walk. Both of these produce sensible quiet and patient mounts that become happy to work with the person instead of against them. The end result is a horse that will be good on the ground, safe in the saddle and one that will walk along nicely, trot along until asked differently and one that will lope on a loose rein without breaking gait. End on a positive note today and sing a better tune tomorrow. HAPPY RIDING
Best wishes John Allington Copyright 2010