A lot of horse trainers are said to have a “way” with horses. They have methods and tricks that get results, but how many horse trainers do you know who’s horses love them? I don’t just mean obey them. Does your horse love or even like your trainer? Or you?
Horse training seems to attract people who have a need for control, authority, and recognition. It’s easy to impress a crowd by showing all the cool things you can make a horse do, even at Liberty. But not many people are wowed by slow, methodical work that builds trust and a real friendship. I hope my work with a horse makes them feel more confident, more relaxed and also more powerful, and that I am an asset to him, not something In his way. That is how I build a friendship.
When my new-to-the-horse-world lhusband and I first started dating, he came with me to a horse show. He was horrified by the warm up ring, and even more horrified when It came time for folks to load their horses back up. All the yelling, name calling, and force was something he hadn’t seen much of. “Don’t any of these people actually like horses?” He asked me. It’s a valid question that I still don’t know the answer to.
It’s been commonly said, “you have to be the horse’s boss before you can be their friend.” It’s also commonly said that “there is a thin line between respect and fear.” It’s true that good leadership sometimes means doing the necessary but unpopular thing. A horse who has been spoiled may not love everything you do for a while. But when I sit on a horse, I never lose fact of the sight that I am at the mercy of their strength. If we are not friends, or aiming toward becoming friends, what real control do I actually have?
What’s in It for the horse? Why should they come around, or do anything we say? They don’t get paid for work like we do, even when we don’t love our bosses. And “because I told you so” does not always hold enough weight with a 1200 lb animal.
It’s unfortunate that horses can sometimes be bullied or made to respond through fear tactics because of how nature made them.
Does your horse love to be ridden? Mine don’t always love It, but it’s my goal, and when they don’t I have to think, are they just still struggling with something that they’ll come out better for and do I need to wait longer, or do I need to change something so they can love It?
I know I love riding, and if I didn’t love riding, It wouldn’t be worth doing. Shouldn’t your horse love his life with you?
Horses make wonderful friends – they’re honest, hard working, and patient enough to teach you endlessly til you figure It out.
Growing up, i didn’t love everything my parents did. I had my own ideas about what i thought should be done, and often i was wrong. But my parents are my friends even after all the naughty or misguided ideas i had. Sometimes my mom calls me to tell me she loves me, “but the best part,” she adds, “is I actually like you.”
There couldn’t be a better compliment.