For Horses' Sake, Keep it Simple
Over the years, I’ve always read everything I could lay my hands on about horses and horse training. Many authors make horse training sound very complicated. Sometimes I can’t make head nor tail of the complicated explanations of how and why horses do certain things.
Countless books and articles talk in depth about the anatomy and muscle structure of the horse. I’ve read about horse’s vertebrae that are supposedly ‘kissing’ i.e. rubbing together; about horse’s with hard mouths and stiff necks; of spines out of alignment; of horses that are left handed or right handed; of hindquarters that need to be broken free; of neck muscles that must be softened; of legs, girths and flanks that need to be desensitised; of horses that use the right side of their brain and horses that use the left side of their brain; of dominant, submissive and reactive horse types. And, of course, I’ve read that we as humans must establish our place in the horse herd and be the horse’s leader.
A lot of these ideas are very popular with a lot of people because they suit the human way of thinking. However, that doesn’t mean that any of these ideas have anything to do with a horse’s way of thinking.
When people have a problem with a horse, it seems that the hardest thing for them to do, is to go to the horse and be nice to him. So many trainers say “Don’t pet your horse. You’ll spoil him”. (Spoil him for what exactly?) “Don’t take feed to catch your horse. That’s bribing him”. (How on earth can a horse understand the human concept of bribery?) “Chase your horse and make him come to you. Don’t go to him, he must come to you”. And on and on it goes.
The hardest part of horse training for a lot of people is being able to swallow their pride, overcome their ego and go to their horse and rub his head. It seems that a lot of people would rather argue about horse herds and what horses do to each other in the wild. They’d sooner chase every horse with flags and ropes, rather than simply go to the horse and rub his head.
The theory of horse training is simple. Very simple. You must always give your horse the answer before you set him any problem. You must always show your horse the easy way before you apply any pressure. The way to do this is to go to your horse and rub his head. Show him that it’s always easy and pleasant to be with you. This must be the first answer that you teach every horse. Teach him that life is always easy and pleasant when he’s with you.
The theory of horse training is very simple. Just go to your horse and give him a rub. Show him that it’s always nice and easy and pleasant to be with you. It’s not that hard. Until a horse is confident and relaxed around people, you really don’t have anything at all.
When a horse is confident and relaxed teaching him is always easy.
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