Originally Posted by Skyseternalangel View Post
Don't think so hard about it, just look at the horse.
When leading a horse, they should follow your direction not the other way round. When a horse barges past you, they are trying to lead instead.
Instead you should be looking at ways to prevent that, rather than looking for ways to fix it after it has happened.
I strongly disagree with this line of thinking. (sorry, not trying to call you out, I see this all the time from TONS of people)
If you ever want your horse to be able to take responsibility for 'following the rules', without question, you have to allow the horse to make mistakes, so you have the chance to educate them. Babysitting them and not allowing them to make mistakes isn't nearly as effective.
I relish in the mistakes a horse makes, because it is another opportunity for my to give correction and make their education increasingly more solid.
People are always so concerned with not letting their horse make a mistake... A horse that is not allowed to make mistakes will always have to be 'babysat' because he's not clear on where he'll find pressure/release. He doesn't have the same quality of education as one who has made many mistakes that have been followed by correction. This is true for every aspect of dealing with horses, whether it be ground work or riding.
A good illustration of this comes with teaching a horse to work a cow. You teach a horse to 'hook' onto the cow by repeatedly releasing the horse to the cow (to the position you want him on the cow) and applying pressure when he gets 'outside' the cow. Sure, I can read the cow myself and babysit my horse, by making sure he never falls outside that cow. But if I try to drop my hand and leave it up to him, or put a rider on the horse that can't read a cow, or even if I misread a cow (horses can read a cow's movement way better than most humans can consistently), it's all going to fall apart. That horse can't take responsibility for reading the cow and doing the job himself, because he's never learned how. Now, if instead, I let that horse miss and get outside the cow, then I put pressure on him and get into him, until he gets back to his spot, the horse learns where he needs to be. With enough repetition, eventually I can build a horse that will work a cow and maintain perfect position, without even having a rider on its back. So long as no one ever sent the horse a conflicting message, he would never 'test' that education, he would just do his job and be left alone.
It's the difference between having a horse that is 'broke' and one that is truly 'finished'. It's how trainers can build a horse that anyone could ride. The horse knows his job and will do it, without question, even with a rider who knows nothing.
I am always seeing people make comments about how horses will always continue to test you. If a horse clearly understands what/where he will encounter pressure and where he will find release, he will not choose to test it. Horses don't think like that. If your horse is 'testing' you, he's really just saying -- I think this action might get me out of pressure so I'm going to try it. It's either because the handler (or handlers in the horse's past) isn't being clear enough to make the acceptable way out of pressure easily understood by the horse, the handler isn't consistent enough and the horse has found another option that sometimes gets him release, or because the horse hasn't actually been taught where to find release (he hasn't been allowed to make mistakes that could then be corrected). Obviously some horses require more repetition than others to learn something, but once a horse is what I would call 'solid' on a lesson, they have no reason to 'test' me, because ALL they're looking for is release and they know exactly where to find it.