You Don't Have to get Your Horse Used to Anything

In
Shying and Control
category
on
November 7, 2017

Here’s a scenario to ponder: A person who’s never even been near a horse before, attends his first riding lesson. The teacher says, “Welcome. We’ll start by putting you on a horse that bucks. Don’t worry, just work your way through it. You’ll figure out what to do and tomorrow we can do it again. After a few lessons, you’ll see that bucking is harmless and nothing to worry about. Yes, you might fall off, but you’ll become desensitised and you’ll soon get used to it.”

Imagine the poor pupil if he did survive the first day and actually came back for more. Riding lessons would be something to dread - each day more frightening than the day before, more terrifying because he knows what to expect.

If the pupil eventually learns to ride the bucking horse, he’ll be even worse off. Though he graduates to easier lessons and trots comfortably around on a quiet horse, the pupil will immediately panic if the horse trips, jumps, shies or does anything out of the ordinary. He’ll be terrified and think, “Oh no. This is how the horse reacted in my first lesson. He’s going to buck. Here we go again. I know what’s coming next.”

“That’s stupid,” I hear you say. “No-one would teach riding like that.” No they wouldn’t, but horse trainers worldwide use this very approach. When a frightened young horse bucks with the saddle, trainers say, “It’s not a big deal. He’ll get used to it. Leave the saddle on him for a while and he’ll be desensitised.”

Wake up world: this makes no sense. It doesn’t work for humans and it doesn’t work for horses.

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