RBEI MASTER COURSES: EQUINE MANAGEMENT: PSYCHOLOGY 3
CONTROL, DEPENDENCY & INDEPENDENT THINKING:
There is a very important concept you need to grasp if you are to be TRULY successful with horses and that is this;
A horse must work in respected relationship with you, alongside you freely, willingly and choose to work in harmony with you.
What happens generally though is the horse is controlled and micromanaged into our commitments.
True horsemanship is a respectful and kind partnership. Where your horse understands the job, accepts the job and chooses to do the job, not where the horse is micro-managed into doing the job whether he understands it, accepts, mentally processes it, or chooses to do it or not.
If you micro manage and control a horses every little action the horse becomes the unwilling participant and has to be controlled thereafter to repeat the task, like a puppet on a string.
Fear based training does this.
Relationship based training is the opposite. Much like a parent, child relationship your incentives are a pat, a good boy, a cuddle and a sense of achievement, and sometimes a treat ;)
Horses love these things and live for them and shape their whole agenda around them if we are kind and rewarding in all we do.
For example horses who are taken away from a friend and ridden may get fretful that their friend is left behind. If you were to micromanage them and control them through this you would achieve a very uptight, unhappy horse at best. If you instead cuddle the horse, pat the horse, encourage saying good boy and give the horse easy tasks then say good boy and make a fuss of him, he will start to drop his agenda of wanting to get back to his friend and you become the agenda, they aren't sidling towards home or the gate, or looking for their friend they are looking for a pat and a cuddle from you. NEVER underestimate the power of a pat, a kind word, a cuddle and a good boy. These tools in your arsenal should be the most used and are the most powerful assets with horses you have at your disposal.
Horses who are controlled, at first opportunity fight for their power back, no one ever likes their individuality and power taken away, horses are the same. They will always be flighty, fearful, nervous, erratic and try to evade you and what you want to do, they will NEVER trust someone who tries to control them, ever.
They also lose their mind space and ability to think on the spot because they are being so controlled, they start to rely on the control to be there and stop thinking which becomes very dangerous. This is where you see horses walk into walls and do silly things, they have lost their ability and mind space to think for themselves and are constantly fearful.
This is very dangerous also when jumping where you need the horse to be able to think on the spot to correct him self without accident where necessary.
Horses who are controlled never learn anything. They no longer see themselves as responsible for their actions because they aren't choosing their actions.
All they are familiar with is how to be controlled.
To truly teach a horse something and to function effectively in horse handling and riding the horse needs the freedom to choose and to own his own behaviour and consequences of that chosen behaviour.
For example, when breaking horses in / educating them to saddle, the difference is highlighted. A person using fear based methodology will tire, lunge, dominate the horse. They buck because they did not choose to accept the rider being on them in the first place, it was simply forced upon them, they buck every time you bring them back from a spell or get some energy to fight back.
With relationship based training to educate a horse to saddle, (breaking in), the best way is to give a horse a feed he likes, in front of him in a feedbin on the ground. The horse likes the feed and chooses to go to the feed and is allowed total freedom to do so. You gently show him the saddle blanket, and place it on, with the horse still on a halter and lead but the lead completely loose, the horse free to choose, you then gently show him the saddle and place it on softly. The horse CHOSE to go to the feed, he CHOSE to allow you to put the gear on because he CHOSE to eat the feed while you were doing it and so CHOSE to accept you doing it, his freedom always remained there, that loose lead always loose. Already you have achieved mental miles over someone who has forced the saddle onto a horse controlling them, who is freaked out and just wants to buck it off.
You then allow the horse to finish his feed in his own time and wander around picking grass in his own paddock with the saddle on still as if it is nothing then take it off, all a non-event. By doing this you have allowed the horse the mental uncontrolled decision making space it needs to decide whether it will accept the saddle being there or not, while it is in it's own space in it's own time, and invariably it will accept it because you haven't frightened the horse and it is un-intimidated by it all.
I have not had 1 RBEI horse I 'broke in' ever buck, there is never a reason to. And I've 'broken in' hundreds.
They see it all as fun, peaceful happy moments, no stress.
You then, another day do the same, put the feed down in front of them, put the gear on including the bridle, slowly just showing them gently and then hop on while they are eating gently patting them. They process the whole thing in their mental space while eating and while relaxed and it is then that they make the critical choice to ACCEPT the rider, BECAUSE they have the freedom to leave the feed and walk away, but chose to remain eating and therefore choose to allow you to be there. It's not forced on them , they have the freedom to leave, they CHOOSE to stay. Therefore they own their own behaviour and choices, they are comfortable and relaxed because it was never forced on them.
After that in the days following you just allow the horse to finish the feed while you are on board and just like with the saddle it will wander around eating grass etc. happily, relaxed, free, un-intimated and owning the choice to allow you to be there.
Then you just keep it a nice experience lots of pats and cuddles, then later use the reins and show the horse gently how to turn, go exploring communicating with them out for a pick of grass, they think it's great are always so relaxed, so happy and so sensible because you aren't stressing them out or controlling you are respectfully doing stuff in partnership with them. They don't fret when a herd gallops past them because they are doing a fun and special and positive thing with you where it is fun they get treats, cuddles and pats get to explore, it's all win win. And they will do anything for you.
No broken spirit, no developed rebellion or hatred for people, no weird phobia about the saddle or the rider, wanting to buck them off. Just all calm, quiet, stress free times having fun like a pet dog and his owner.
ALWAYS be aware of what mental effect your physical actions are having on your horse. What are your ACTIONS communicating to your horse.
Whether you like it or not if you ride, you train horses, because horses will learn and adapt to you and what you do. Make sure what you do is taking them in the right mental direction. Horses are only as good as their last ride.
Getting a physical result using force may seem to achieve the result, but next time the same or more force will be required. Learn to re-assure and encourage your horse into doing things for you rather than making him. Next time he'll do that thing without breaking stride with his eyes closed and love you for it ;)
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