2. CONTROLLING YOUR HORSE VS TEACHING YOUR HORSE TO
OK. Here's the thing: if you are always controlling your horses behavior, ie; short rein, short lead, managing and micromanaging every little thing they do when you are with them, are they really trained?
Are they really behaving? Or just being controlled by you.
If you are constantly keeping your horse controlled it is not only tiresome but un-enjoyable for your horse and for you.
No person or horse, enjoys being controlled.
Get your head around this one. Imagine the horses' brain is like a paddock. There is a fence / boundary it can't cross but within that paddock it is free to do as it pleases.
You should have a clear set of boundaries you have consistently maintained with your horse. ie, biting would be crossing the boundary, there would always be a consequence for it, kicking, rearing, bucking etc, etc...these are mental boundaries / fences, the horse knows there are certain things it is not allowed to do unless it wants a negative consequence and to be pulled back into line immediately.
But aside from that it should feel free to do as it pleases and express itself freely.
Here's an analogy for you: your horse is in it's paddock, having a scratch, a pick, a roll etc, randomly doing it's own weird and wonderful daily rituals and hobbies such as chewing on an interesting tasting tree root or checking to see if anything moves in the distant house it can see..., you walk in, grab it in a halter then stand there, making it stand, then you say oh, you may need a drink, so leeeeeaaaad it over to the water bucket, then, oh maybe you want a pick so you puuuuuuuuush his head down to the grass holding the lead tightly.
This would be ridiculous no? The horse would want to kill you after 5 minutes...but this is exactly, in effect, how people train their horses...and they are really p.....g them off.
Let me explain myself: an example: taking your horse for a walk on the lead. Simple task.
So how many people hold up close to the clip of the lead and keep it tight? Why??
Ok there are boundaries, whilst on the lead the horse must not bite, kick, rush off etc, fine, but are you enforcing boundaries or defensively controlling your horse, annoying the bejesus out of it.
Give your horse a loose rein, allow it to learn to control itself, IF it misbehaves in any way THEN and ONLY THEN sure reprimand, then give it it's God given freedom back, allow it to own it's own behaviour.
If you pass on the responsibility of it's own behavior back to the horse during your time with it, your horse will respond by becoming more relaxed, expressive, happy and happy to see you.
They value their freedom, horse riding and handling, like any relationship should be free but with clear consistent boundaries which are enforced.
I constantly come across defensive and uptight riders and unhappy horses, who after 5 minutes of adjusting as mentioned turn into a happy kind rider who enjoys riding and a relaxed, happy horse who calls when you turn up with the saddle at the paddock gate.
Freedom is something horses, like all of us, value highly, and if they feel this is taken from them they will fight to regain it and be unhappy until they feel they are being treated fairly and not controlled.
This topic is one that I think goes right to the foundations of all we do with horses and needs to be addressed further...
I have seen this one thing make a dramatic difference to many horse and rider relationships.