Your Horse Can be Your Friend
When you work with your horse, you have two options. You can be nice to your horse and treat him as your friend.
Or you can treat him as your enemy and think that he must submit and “respect” you at all times.
Yes, your horse can be your friend. He can learn to enjoy your company and enjoy being with you. Being nice to your horse doesn’t mean that he’s allowed to do whatever he pleases. In fact, your horse can only relax with you when he understands your rules and knows exactly what you want him to do. No horse can relax if you aren’t definite and consistent.
Whenever I ride, the first thing I teach every horse is to walk and trot in a relaxed manner. After all, if you can’t walk and trot in a relaxed manner you’ll have no hope trying to canter (lope). And you’ll have nothing to come back to if your horse becomes nervous or worried.
Many people try to teach their horse advanced movements before they can walk and trot in a relaxed manner. They think that they can come back to these “minor” things later. It’s common to see young horses being forced to walk over tarps and ramps before they’ve been taught to walk and trot correctly. It’s also common to seen people try and teach flying changes or spins and turns when their horse hasn’t learned the basics.
Teaching advanced movements will be much easier when you’ve first taught your horse to walk and trot in a confident and relaxed manner. And if your horse becomes confused at any time, you can give him a loose rein and he’ll know it’s time to walk around and relax for a while.
I often read all sorts of complicated explanations of why horses rear, shy, kick up, bolt or use some other undesirable behaviour. And there’s always an even more complicated explanation of how to overcome these issues.
Instead of looking for complicated reasons and causes why your horse doesn’t respond as you wish, simply go back to basics and teach him to relax and move forward in the walk and trot.
Instead of thinking your horse has a problem to overcome, work in an area without distractions and teach your horse to walk and trot correctly. If your horse tries to run away or stop or rear or do anything else, pull him around in a tight circle. It must be unpleasant for your horse to use undesirable behaviours. If you’re not prepared to make things unpleasant for your horse at the right time, he’ll soon learn to use these behaviours to do as he pleases. And it won’t be long before he’s out of control
It’s just as important to make things easy and pleasant for your horse when he is doing as you ask. Give the rein and sit relaxed in the saddle, to make things as easy as possible for him.
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