There are about 23 million people in Australia and about 75 million sheep. If you drive out into the countryside, you’ll soon see sheep in the paddock. It’s common to see a flock of sheep heading across the landscape. One sheep starts off for a drink or a feed and a hundred others follow blindly. The leader walks on a set track and the rest follow, strung out one behind the other until they reach their destination. Over time, the sheep make a furrow in the ground. Eventually these furrows are washed out from the rain and become eroded. But still the sheep stay in these same tracks. They don’t think that it might be easier to walk on new ground, they just follow blindly. Sheep don’t think for themselves.
I’m sure that the sheep following the leader don’t actually know where they’re going or why they’re going there. Yet follow they do. I’m not really sure that the leader knows where he’s going or why he’s going there either, but it doesn’t seem to matter.
In the horse world, we continuously hear about herd behaviour. Many trainers say that you must become your horse’s leader. When you do this, they say your horse will follow you everywhere and won’t question anything you ask him to do.
The truth is that horses don’t think you’re their leader and they won’t blindly follow or automatically do whatever you ask. Horses must be taught every step of the way at every stage of their training.
Lots of horse people act just like sheep and blindly follow a leader. They don’t know where they’re going or why they’re going there. Yet follow they do. These people don’t question anything that their leader tells them.
When you work with your horse, don’t be a sheep. If you blindly follow a leader, you too will eventually become washed out and eroded.
Forget about the herd. Think for yourself and always question why you’re going down a particular path. And always try to find the very best path for you and your horse.
Remember, you're the teacher. Try to find the best way for every horse.