Many horse people like to think they are at one with nature. They feel it’s perfectly natural to chase a horse in a round yard. They have a warm fuzzy feeling about being a member of the horse herd. When their horse eventually faces them or follows them, it appeals to their “inner spirit” to think that they’ve been “accepted as the horse's leader”.
Here’s the reality: Horses must never be chased in a round yard, or anywhere else for that matter.
When horses are chased in a round yard they run because they have no option. Most horses eventually work out that it’s easier to follow the trainer than to keep running. However, if a horse is frightened or worried, chasing him only frightens him more. The last thing he’ll want to do is come to the trainer. The horse may stand and face the trainer but as soon as he’s approached, the horse will move away because he’s scared. Some horses will run to the point of exhaustion rather than come to the trainer, or allow him to approach. When a horse is worried and frightened, you must overcome his fear before you ask him to follow you.
Some people think that the theory of horse training doesn’t matter. They think only of the end result and don’t care how they get there. I’ve often been told by other trainers “It’s only the fine print you’re arguing about. The finer details don’t matter. We all do the same”. I strongly disagree. Understanding the theory and every fine detail of horse training is very, very important. It matters a great deal. If your underlying thinking and theory is flawed, there’ll come a time when your theories and “methods” don’t work. When this happens, many trainers resort to the use of unnecessary pressure and force. Many trainers think that they must be dominant and be the leader, so they chase horses relentlessly or reach for ropes, hobbles and restraints or tie horses down on the ground.
Unfortunately, this way of thinking causes a lot of horses a lot of unnecessary pressure and stress. Until people realise that this way of thinking is flawed, horses everywhere will continue to suffer. It’s simple to teach a horse to follow you without chasing him. You must have a lead rope on the horse and you must show him that it’s always easy and pleasant to be with you. Next, you can teach him that it’s slightly unpleasant when he’s not with you.
Horses aren’t stupid, they soon work out that it’s easier to stay with you than to move away. It doesn’t take long to teach a horse to follow, without ever chasing him or stressing him.
When you learn this, you’ll understand that there’s never any need to chase any horse to teach him to follow you.
The theory that you can be your horse’s leader and become part of a horse herd is nonsense. Too many horses are chased and stressed unnecessarily, by people who think they’re showing leadership or entering the horse herd.
This is just one example of how flawed theories and flawed thinking result in horses being subjected to unnecessary pressure and stress.
It’s high time everyone started to put the wellbeing of every horse ahead of their own personal desire to be “at one with nature” or to “become a horse’s leader” or to enter some mystical horse herd.