These days, we live in a world of political correctness gone mad. Many people say it’s wrong to use a bit or to tap a horse with a stick or touch him with a blunt spur. “It’s cruel” they say.
This is complete nonsense. When a young horse is confident and relaxed, introducing a bit, a stick or a pair of blunt spurs is a non-event. The horse will take absolutely no notice.
Another myth is that our horses love us and want to please us. This is also nonsense. Horses won’t do anything because they “love” us. Horses only want to please themselves.
The truth is, if you’re going to sit on a horse’s back and ask him to carry you around, you’d better be prepared to make that horse do what you want.
Yes, you must make your horse do what you want. He won’t do anything because he loves you and he couldn’t care less about being your partner. Your horse cares about his food. He cares about his friends. And in every training situation, he cares about making life as easy as possible for himself.
Here are a couple of examples:
1. Some horses learn to ignore squeezes and kicks from a rider’s heels, and run along in the trot instead of cantering when they’re asked.
The only way to make a horse canter on the stride you ask, is to make things unpleasant for him if he runs along. If your horse takes no notice of a squeeze or kick, you must up the ante and tap him with a stick or touch him with a blunt spur. Immediately he canters, make things easy and pleasant for him by removing the stick and spur. Every horse will soon learn that it’s unpleasant to run along, and that it’s easy and pleasant to canter when you ask.
2. Many horses don’t worry too much when the rider pulls softly against the bit or headstall. They put up with this slight discomfort and soon learn to run home, run away or do as they please.
If your horse decides to run home, you must be prepared to take hold of the bit or headstall and pull him around in a tight circle. This makes it unpleasant for him to try and run home or run away. Immediately your horse does as you ask, you must give to make things easy and pleasant for him.
The human perception that bits and sticks and blunt spurs are cruel and frightening for horses is utter nonsense. Horse aren’t intrinsically worried or frightened by these things.
The correct use of bits, sticks and blunt spurs is essential to reinforce your lessons when necessary. Always remember, your horse can’t relax unless you’re positive and consistent at all times.