Many people tell me about the problems they have with their horses. I hear of rearing horses, shying horses, horses that kick up, buck, pull the reins, run home and any number of other issues. People often say “There’s something wrong with my horse. I need someone to fix him.”
Many trainers will tell you they can fix your horse problems and they offer all sorts of ‘cures’. Cure A fixes a rearing horse. Cure B fixes a shying horse. Cure C for a horse that bucks and on and on they go down the alphabet.
I wish it was that simple. Horse problems aren’t diseases that can be cured. They are simply behaviours that horses learn to use to relieve pressure when they don’t understand what’s wanted.
No matter what behaviour a horse learns – it may be shying, rearing, bucking or any number of other things – the real issue is that the horse is nervous and worried and not moving forward correctly. A horse that rears, shies or bucks is never fully confident and relaxed when he’s being ridden.
Though you think you have a specific problem with your horse, forget about rearing, shying, bucking or any other issue. Simply work on teaching your horse to be confident and relaxed and to move forward and give. You must go back to basics and work on things that you know you can do. You must make things easy and pleasant for your horse when he does as you ask and a little unpleasant when he isn’t doing as you ask. Never try to do things that you know will upset your horse. Always start by working on things you know you can do and build from there.
Instead of thinking that your horse has a problem that needs to be ‘cured’, you must adjust your thinking. Remember that your horse uses problem behaviours because he doesn’t understand what you want him to do. Remember that your horse isn’t confident and relaxed and is using these undesirable behaviours to relieve pressure.
Every horse can be taught to be confident and relaxed and to move forward and give. When a horse is confident and relaxed and moving forward and giving, he’s not rearing, shying, bucking or doing anything undesirable because he’s too busy doing as you ask.