October 14, 2008
A good guide earns a horse’s respect by reassuring the horse and inspiring his trust.
Your horse is relaxed and receptive when he has found and understands his role in your relationship. Horses know how to recognize a good guide, and they are happy to follow.
If your horse is displaying negative behavior, take a look at your leadership style.
In most cases, a horse’s negative behavior is caused by:
- Lack of trust and confidence: If your horse is afraid, help him. Break up an exercise so he can understand it and succeed in doing it. It’s useless to ask him to do too much too quickly. Exercises must be done according to the horse’s unique rhythm, not at the speed you prefer. Help the horse where he is, not where you want him to be.
- Lack of respect: Respect must be earned. The horse must know who is in charge, which he will learn from your attitude and not from brutality. This lesson can be made easier by the fact that you can control all parts of his body. Use exercises from AQHA’s Fundamentals of Horsemanship books to help inspire your horse’s respect by teaching him to respond to your requests with consideration and not fear.
- Loss of connection/deterioration of the bond: Contact and connections are not only physical. Whenever you interact with your horse, you need to be really present. The link between you and your horse goes beyond the physical – it is also mental and emotional. If you don’t take control of the situation, he will.
Difficult horses often lack both trust and respect. Fear makes them want to escape from what they feel to be danger. This reaction can have serious consequences, such as pushing, knocking over the handler or kicking.
Your horse must learn to respect your personal space. By controlling his movements, you’ll let him know who’s leading the dance.
A series of exercises will teach you how to move your horse. You must control his forequarters in order not to be pushed, and his hindquarters in order not to be kicked. This procedure affects not only the horse’s physical behavior, but also his mental and emotional state.
Tiring the horse out and concentrating only on the physical aspect can have adverse effects over time. The horse must gain confidence and respect before we can pay more attention to his physical development.
Learn more about improving your horse’s confidence and gaining his respect. AQHA’s Fundamentals of Horsemanship books are the industry’s newest comprehensive teaching tools. AQHA members get a discount on these incredible educational materials.
Wanted: Horse Treat Recipes
The American Quarter Horse Journal wants to know your recipes for homemade horsey snacks. Send your name, address and horse treat recipe to Tonya Ratliff-Garrison, and it might be featured in an upcoming issue of the Journal!