Learning In the Horse’s Time

When a horse is asked to do something, and they don’t immediately do it, we assume they are not complying. But it’s important to note horses don’t intuit our requests by nature. Pulling on a lead rope to lead forward doesn’t make sense to a horse automatically. Horses have to be taught that A leg aid means go forward. They aren’t born knowing pulling on the reins means stop. Anyone who’s worked with young horses or feral horses knows kicking and pulling leads to resistance immediately.

When I teach people, they get flustered if too much information is given too fast. “I don’t know how to do that!” They sometimes protest. Or they say they’re thinking about too much at once – doing what I ask, reading their environment, trying to figure out why it isn’t working all at once. And these are folks with big, frontal lobes made for reasoning.

Now imagine being a horse without the same reasoning capacity, and your brain is made up for fight or flight. If something doesn’t make sense, they are going to respond with what they know, or fight/flight.

If you need time to think and have exercises broken into small steps for you to understand, the same goes for a horse – you should at LEAST grant your horse the same time and simplicity you expect for learning. But more would be better.

Photo is of Mary Ann and Pollyanna, working on one thing at a time til each thing is clear.

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