“Watch out for this horse. He’s mad. His mother was mad and his full sister was even worse. All this breed are bad.” I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard stories like this.
Unfortunately, people are always ready to blame their horse when things go wrong. The truth is that no horse is mad or bad. The horse in the slideshow has never been taught to be confident with people. He’s frightened and nervous and hasn't been shown that there’s a place where he can relax. When I ask him to walk a simple circle around me, he doesn’t understand, so he reverts to the only thing he knows – rush away, pull back and resist.
I have to show him that it’s easy and pleasant to do as I ask and it’s a little unpleasant to rush away, pull back and resist. I have to teach the horse that life is easy and pleasant when he walks a simple circle.
Though the horse initially rushes away and resists, I show him the easy way by stopping him and rubbing his head. I show him that life is easy and pleasant and he can relax when his head is with me.
In the second twenty minute lesson, the horse keeps his head turned towards me and starts to relax. He knows he can relax, have a break and get a nice rub on his head every time he comes to me.
Though you can’t expect to completely change any horse’s behaviour overnight, you can see a huge improvement within a couple of lessons.
People often say “I haven’t got time to rub a horse’s head and mess around like you do”. Funny thing is, they always have time to chase their horse for half an hour to catch him and they always have time to wrestle and fight.
Always remember, rubbing your horse’s head can never be overdone. This is yet another example of the power of your most valuable training tool.