It's nobody's fault but your own


Lots of people go to clinics to watch a ‘wild’ bucking horse being ‘tamed’. It’s high time for everyone to realise that a young horse is frightened and terrified when he bucks, yet I’ve seen trainers make a joke of it or say, “It doesn’t matter, he’ll get used to it. He has to work it out for himself.” In other words, the trainer can’t work it out, so he’ll leave it to the horse. 

You won’t see that when you watch me at work. My goal is to handle and ride every horse without fighting or bucking at any stage. If a horse bucks, fights or strikes, I see it as a failure on my behalf.  From the very first day I started working with horses, I always believed there must be a way around every horse without bucking and fighting. It upsets me to see horses bucking around when they’re first saddled or ridden. There’s absolutely no need for it.

I’ve had the benefit of working with thousands of horses from all different backgrounds. Many of them had been very badly handled and were extremely frightened. No matter how badly handled they were, I never blamed the horses. When things went wrong it was always my fault, never the horse’s fault.

Don’t worry, I’ve made plenty of mistakes and done all sorts of things that I wouldn’t do today. Sometimes I pushed too far and frightened a horse and he bucked. When this happened, I always tried to work out what I’d done wrong and what I could do differently so it wouldn’t happen again. No matter the problem, I always blamed myself.

These days, I’m often told that watching me start a horse under saddle is like watching paint dry. There’s no drama, no explosive bucking or fighting. When people see me work, they often say, “This horse is quiet. What happens when you get a wild horse? I’ve got one at home you couldn’t handle like that. My horse is mad. He kicks and bucks and strikes at me.”

My message to the world is simple: Every horse can be ‘quiet’ just as every horse can be ‘wild’ or ‘mad’. It depends how they’re handled.  It’s the trainer’s responsibility to work in a manner that every horse can understand and accept. If a horse bucks, fights or strikes, it’s always the trainer’s fault. It’s never the horse’s fault.




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Just found your site. I'm very impressed by your "quiet" insights. What a useful approach to take. If there is a problem, take responsibility for it (or blame yourself) because then you can look at ways to change your approach to avoid triggering problems the next time. If you blame the horse, then bad behaviour is out of your control and there's really nothing you can do to prevent it. Liking what I am reading!

Wendy O'Malley October 25th, 2014

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