Every horse and rider from time to time will run into a bump in the road where the horse is resistant. The way of thinking where the rider is always right and the horse always follows can sometimes lead to power struggles with the horse- if we are fighting to win, we may win, but often at cost to the relationship. This frame of mind often produces shut down or robotic horses who don’t participate or engage in a conversation.
When you ask for something, are you thinking of the long term picture? Are you working toward an end goal, or are you fighting to win?
This doesn’t mean you let your horse walk all over you, but if, say, they’re scared of the things in the corner of the arena, and you make them go there because you’re the boss, they may go there, but they have lost confidence in you and in their world. Some battles are not worth it.
When it comes to troubled horses, picking your battles is especially important. Here is a picture of Q when we first began working together. Picking my battles with him was essential. I tried to ask for things I knew he could do for some time, and then slowly began asking for things that he had to try at. Now we can do plenty together, but if I’d began our relationship with a dictator like attitude, things would not have gone well for either of us.
Ray Hunt said, “first you go with them, then they go with you, then you go together.”