11. YOUR NEW HORSE & YOU
There are many factors to consider when purchasing a horse but the most important thing to remember is horses are not programmed machines and to the vast extent only go as good as their riders.
It is therefore imperative riders are constantly training and working on their horse skills to get the best out of their mount.
I often come across people these days who desire only to sit pretty on a 'trained' horse rather than to actually be able to ride. This is all very well and good but even an experienced schoolmaster soon works out his riders inexperience and degresses in his behaviour and performance under such unknowledgeable guidance.
Therefore if you are a very green rider and you desire to purchase a horse my advice is go for it but seek constant guidance and tuition while riding your new horse.
I have been called out to the aid of so many riders who have a horse they have purchased that started out fine but quickly degressed into a frustrated and unrideable angry ball of confusion.
They are quick to blame the person who sold them the horse however these problems are generally a lack of knowledge and understanding on the riders part.
KEY: If you are having horse troubles, ask yourself, what am I doing to cause this behaviour.
There are a number of extremely common serious problems that are getting riders into a lot of trouble these days.
One major one is being too hard and rough with your horse, and not offering the horse time to translate, process and act on what is being asked. For example, you get on, and click at your horse to walk on. This is a very common mistake and the result is an extremely edgy, nervous horse who wants to throw you off.
Communicating with your horse should be kind, soft and unintimidating and allow enough time for the horse to do it without force.
A good way to get your horse into a walk would be mount, give your horse a pat, ask him nicely with your voice or a gentle touch on the neck or rub with the legs to walk on gently and then if it doesn't listen sure, give him a click up as back up.
The difference is this: If you pounce on your horse with harsh commands your horse thinks it missed you asking the first time and that is why it is being asked so harshly, it therefore gets very alert, nervous and edgy, thinking hard commands are going to be sprung on it at any time, it can't relax at all ever. It gets frustrated, hates being ridden and given the opportunity will get rid of the annoying and scary rider on it's back.
Another common problem which I deal with all the time in lessons are people reacting to their horses shying.
People the horse looks to you for confidence, you may be packing yourself when that dog jumps up at the fence at your horse, we all do, but fake it, don't react, don't appear phased, continue as you were and quietly steady your horse without any hey hey heys or holy craps!!!!
Horses CANNOT sense your fear, they only read your actions.
Stop sending your horses head into flip out mode when he shies because he thinks you are terrified, and give him confidence instead by making him think you are confident, unflappable and not scared or phased by anything.
Don't approach that white plastic bag squeeking high pitched nervous "it's alright...it's alright... good boy" all he hears is oh crap oh crap oh crap!!
Just let him have a look then turn his head away and keep him occupied with something else.
I am constantly amazed how many people flip their horses out into panic mode by screeching when stuff happens, do not react.
unflappable, if you treat everything as a non-event your horse will too.
Sometimes it's best to apply a bit of common sense, put yourself in your horses shoes, try to understand what they are thinking and encourage the heck out of them.
A pat is NOT spoiling them, they will behave if they get a pat and nice treatment and encouragement and sure if they really play up, meet the thing they are doing with an adequate equal amount of discipline then go back to being your sweet self.
Horses are not 'good' or 'bad', they are not their behaviour, don't hold a grudge, just treat them as they come, when they are being good reward them and encourage them, when they are playing up discipline them, but don't be defensive and hard, that is just rewarding their good behaviour with harshness so they will soon turn from their good behaviour and start to be badly behaved and no-one wants this.
I have dealt with so many riders who have had to re-adjust on the above mentioned matters and when they have, that beautiful horse they bought resurfaces, and the horrible dodgy one their horse turned into post purchase disappears...worth a thought.