01-03-2011, 04:49 PM
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If your horse doesn't understand what you want, what good does getting angry do? If you had a teacher and they asked you to do a calculus problem when you were only just mastering algebra, then they yelled and berated and pulled your hair when you didn't give the correct response, would that make you want to learn how to do calculus? If I tell my dog to sit before teaching him to sit, how will my yelling at him or hitting him help him to know that sit means "put your butt on the floor"? If my horse is scared (even if only for a stupid reason)and starts getting tense and silly on a trail ride and I respond by getting tense and angry and yanking or hitting her with my crop, what reaction can I expect from a prey animal than that she will try even harder to get away, both from me and from whatever else is scaring her?
What purpose does getting angry with an animal ever serve? Being stern - yes, that can be helpful. Providing consistant appropriate discipline when neccessary - yes, animals, especially pack animals understand that. Being calm but insistant - that works. Getting angry and yelling or physical - nope. You will get one of two reactions - the animal will shut down completely or they will fight you. All learning will be over for the day. Any good you have accomplished in that training session has now been forgetten because they only thing they will remember is the fight or the punishment, not the previous 30 minutes of calm, patient teaching. This isn't to say you can't insist firmly that your horse do something when you know they know what you are asking for (and you know this because they have successfully done it mutiple times before, not because you think they ought to have figured it out by now), but if it degenerates into a yelling or tugging or hitting match that's not going to work. YOur horse is bigger than you - you can't "make" it do anything and you will both be the losers for the attempt.
If you seriously have anger and temper issues, you need to get them under control. Lord knows we all get frustrated and annoyed, but when it turns into a temper tantrum on our part, we accomplish nothing. Horses aren't motor bikes - some days they are just off and it is our job as their rider to understand this and deal with the ride we are given. Sometimes this means we don't get to work on what we wanted to work on that day. Sometimes, I go to ride my horse and feel like 6 months of work never happened. On those days, I go back and work on my exercises from 6 months ago instead of doing more advanced work. Then the next time I come out, maybe we can get back onto my training plan.
The fact that you know you have this problem is good. If you are working with your mare and you see yourself getting into a situation where your temper is about to explode, just stop. Either stop riding for that day altogether and start fresh the next day, or, if you're not too far gone, redirect to something else where you know you can have some success and end on a good note - it's amazing what 10 minutes of simple stretching and basic flexation work at the walk can do to get things back on track. Your horse will thank you for it and in the end, you will make far more progress and build greater trust, which will make your job of training easier and more successful.