...If my horses lived in pens like yours, BSMS, they also would look for any opportunity to get out of them, appearing very eager to hit the trails!
Although Trooper is fine with my daughter, he never acts eager to go out. Cowboy gets along well with older women, but he doesn't act eager to go out. Bandit does. I'm sure it is partially that he doesn't like the other two horses, and they don't like him.
But yes, I believe he LIKES to go out. He acts like he is enjoying himself on a trail. Like Mia, he looks around and is involved in a way Trooper does not.
If he lived on 100 acres of pasture, he might well feel different. As I wrote, "A horse who lives in a lush pasture with other horses he likes may not be thrilled with riding.
But I also believe it has something to do with HOW a horse is ridden. I think the Austrian cavalryman was right:
"it loves to exercise its powers, and it possesses a great spirit of emulation; it likes variety of scene and amusement ; and under a rider that understands how to indulge it in all this without overtaxing its powers, will work willingly to the last gasp,which is what entitles it to the name of a noble and generous animal...
..Horses don't like to be ennuye, and will rather stick at home than go out to be bored ; they like amusement, variety, and society : give them their share of these, but never in a pedantic way, and avoid getting into a groove of any kind, either as to time or place, especially with young animals...
...and a little reflection will generally suffice to point out the means of remedying something that, if left to itself, would grow into a confirmed habit, or if attacked with the energy of folly and violence, would suddenly culminate in the grand catastrophe of restiveness..."
I think a lot of horses are ridden in a way that takes the life out of them. Bandit's previous rider told me to just "Push him up to" anything that scared him. And Bandit arrived here willing to go forward, but inclined to sometimes explode. He showed no signs of being convinced the scary thing was not scary...just that he had no choice.
I think giving him choices, and letting him tell me when he was afraid, and seeking for a mutually acceptable answer is teaching him confidence, and confidence is far different than just calmness! A horse who expects to get scared isn't likely to enjoy the ride. A horse who knows his rider will work with him if he is genuinely scared, and TEACH him things are not scary, is more likely to enjoy going out. Heck, I like jogging, but I wouldn't like it if I thought muggers lurked around every bush!
In the 1800s, a dressage rider, F Baucher wrote:
"Now, I ask, if before overcoming these first obstacles, the rider adds to them the weight of his own body, and his unreasonable demands, will not the animal experience still greater difficulty in executing certain movements? The efforts we make to compel him to submission, being contrary to his nature, will they not find in it an insurmountable obstacle? He will naturally resist, and with so much the more advantage, that the bad distribution of his forces will of itself be sufficient to paralyze those of the rider.
The resistance then emanates, in this case, from a physical cause: which becomes a moral one from the moment when, the struggle going on with the same processes, the horse begins of his own accord to combine means of resisting the torture imposed on- him, when we undertake to force into operation parts which have not previously been supplied. When things get into this state, they can only grow worse.
The rider, soon disgusted with the impotence of his efforts, will cast back upon the horse the responsibility of his own ignorance; he will brand as a jade an animal possessing the most brilliant resources, and of whom, with more discernment and tact, he could have made a hackney as docile in character, as graceful and agreeable in his paces.
I have often remarked that horses considered indomitable are those which develop the most energy and vigor, when we know how to remedy those physical defects which prevent their making use of them. As to those which, in spite of their bad formation, are by a similar system made to show a semblance of obedience, we need thank nothing but the softness of their nature ; if they can be made to submit to the simplest exercises, it is only on condition that we do not demand anything more of them, for they would soon find their energy again to resist any further attempts."
I wonder if too many horses become jaded. Cowboy was branded a poor horse for a beginner rider - rebellious and mischievous, bucking and bolting regularly. Yet used in a way he understands - trail riding with another horse - he is outstanding. My wife is starting to get interested in riding again, because she enjoys his personality and she feels very safe with him.
The rebellious horse is a caretaker horse - IF ridden in a way he understands, by someone who will work with his nature instead of trying to remove his nature. My wife rides 6 times a year, but he works WITH her on a ride...yet was the horse no one wanted because he was a jaded, bitter, resentful lesson horse.
The problem wasn't that Cowboy was a bad horse. It was that he was too good a horse to be ridden in endless circles as a lesson horse, by people who treated him more like an ATV than a thinking being.
When horses don't like to be ridden, it may be they just don't like to be ridden. I have no doubt some of them just want nothing to do with humans. That is their nature. But I also think a lot of horses don't enjoy being ridden because they are ridden without regard for their nature. Some horses thrive in the arena. Others on a trail. Some ridden with precision, others with free rein. But if one rides a horse contrary to the horse's nature, should it surprise anyone if the horse becomes resentful - the grand catastrophe of restiveness -
as Cowboy did?