What are you saying?
I've been thinking a bit lately about things I'm seeing, experiencing, and on the rare occasion I log in here, reading, and I wanted to share my thoughts and maybe start up a bit of a discussion.
It seems to me that a lot of people run into problems with their horses because they forget one simple piece of knowledge, and that is that HORSES ARE ALWAYS TALKING TO YOU. Once you grasp that fact and understand that, whether you are aware of it or not, you are constantly having a conversation with your horse, I think a lot of problems can be avoided and a lot more success can be had.
It's the same as any interaction with another human, or a dog or cat or any living thing with a brain. You want to work and interact with it, you have to speak with it. Imagine working with another human. The two of you will talk and use body language to get along and complete the task. You wouldn't get very far staying silent and being ignorant towards each other, yet somehow you can see this a lot as people try to work with horses. The horse will be practically SCREAMING at the human, and the human continues on completely unaware of what's being shouted at them. A lot of times you'll see the horse get blamed for 'bad' things it's doing - when all along the horse has been yelling at the top of its lungs that something is wrong. I'm not saying horses can't just be disobedient or 'bad'; there are some rare, genuinely BAD horses, but honestly A) the source of the problem is almost always a human-caused issue or B) the disobedience could have been avoided if the humans just shut up for a second and LISTENED. Can you imagine voicing your opinion, again and again, a little louder each time, and continuously being ignored? How long could you go without getting fed up with it?
Horses can't speak, obviously, but they are still ALWAYS talking to you through body language - they're not shy about telling you what's going on, how they feel, and what they're thinking. And, whether you realize it or not, they're always listening to your feedback. So what are you telling them? Is it something understandable? Is it something relevant? The sooner you open your eyes and understand that there is in fact a conversation going on, the sooner you can wake up and become aware of what you're contributing to it.
Of course we are two entirely different species - not everyone is going to pick up the horse's language just like that. And the same goes the other way - young or unhandled horses are going to take a little more time and care to learn to understand us. It takes a lot of time and experience to be able to 'read' horses - it's a learning process that takes years. But some things we 'say' can be understood by every species. Fear, confidence, kindness, fairness etc are things, different types of energy, that everyone can understand...though it would seem that this is an aspect of our nature that a lot of humans have fallen out of touch with. A product of the internet age, I guess. There's a reason there's a saying 'It's not WHAT you say, it's HOW you say it.' Do everything with confidence and be sure of everything you do and you're already halfway to success.
So the next time something is going wrong or not working with your horse, just take a deep breath, a step back, and consider for a moment exactly what it is you're telling this horse - and what it is telling you. Regardless of your age or experience level, you're going to be a good step ahead if you have the ability to listen and the desire to make an effort to communicate and be understood.
That is probably why the old TB race trainers turn out the best horses bc they take the time to listen.
Really good post, completely agree with you on every level.
All I have to say is Amen!
Very true. I try to learn to communicate better with my horses everyday.
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It is important though to remember that horses have a mind of their own. Not everything is because of confusion, or pain, or hole in training.
Sometimes it is simply horse does not want to. Plain and simple.
I've seen it time after time. Someone gets a horse and they have no clue as to what they are doing.
A previously well trained, intelligent horse, suddenly turns into the village idiot. Usually because the well meaning owners want to "love the horsey", and in doing so? They help ruin it.
I've seen horses that could not be even gotten out of their stall, because owner wouldn't make them get with program. Old owner shows up, and tells horse to get it together...and horse acts just fine.
And I don't know about you....but there are some youtube videos that make me physically ill, because the people with the horses are such idiots.
Very well said and I completely agree but please keep going with your thoughts.
If what your are doing isn't working don't blame the horse. Pay attention to what you have been doing and try a different approach. You'll know when it works. If you're not hitting the horse, you're not doing anything wrong. It may not be right but it's not wrong.
Yes, often there is a physical problem causing the issue. But SO much is just plain old respect. And interestingly, the horses I see that the owners are crying about all of their 'issues' with soreness, saddle fit, needing the chiro every few weeks, or farrier every other week etc. Are owners that tip toe around their horses, telling them that they are good pets and 'here, eat another lump of sugar from my hand for giving me a "hug"'.
Disrespect is disrespect. I was teaching a girl for some time, that was spending far more than the horse was worth on chiro work, farriers (it was ALWAYS the farrier's fault, I think she went through just about every farrier in the state and still thought they were all useless), fancy supplements, injections, drugs, etc etc. etc.
The horse was, plain and simple, a bit of a dog and had pulled the wool completely over her eyes. There was NOTHING wrong with him.
Those are the owners that frustrate the heck out of me.
It's not always a physical issue. Horses CAN and DO think for themselves!!
Paradise, I couldn't agree more! Sometimes we want our horse to do something so bad that we forget that they don't "think" like we do. I wrote a post on my website about this called "Is it me or is my horse dumb" 99.9% of the time it's NOT the horse. We need to take some time to learn how to communicate with our horse, to "speak to his listening" so to speak.
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