Lifting the blinders: "Over-educated" horse owners can often lead to underthinking horsemen

Clients that work with me often realize that many horse owners (usually them self included ) seek "help" from a professional only AFTER something has gone terribly wrong in their relationship and/or interaction with their horse.  And most would admit that they could have "seen it coming" way before the actual dangerous or dramatic event occurred.  For some reason though, people never really believe how fast or how bad a situation with a horse can get, until they've reached that point.
I was working horses the other day and non-horse person happened to be watching while his granddaughter was doing a lesson on a pony with another instructor.  He was watching what I was doing (working a mare at liberty) and watching a client "catching" her horse in the pasture- but using my "hot wire" technique to help support that mare to try all of her options until she decided she wanted to come over and present herself to be caught.  I mentioned a few general theories as to what he was seeing and why we were doing what we were with the horses.

As the gentleman was standing watching both of us he casually made the following remarks:
"Why would someone want to impose them self on a horse to be caught in order to work with it?"
"Why force a horse to do anything, wouldn't it get really upset if you do?"
"The bit really doesn't stop a horse does it?"

Over the years I've encountered these scenarios more than a few times.  The horse "ignorant" person can make crystal clear and almost overly simplistic assessments and literally "see" what is happening with the horses. 

On the other hand, all too often, the "over-educated" horse person has accidentally developed the "mainstream horse world's" imposed blinders created by too many avenues of generalized information causing a lack of clarity in understanding. Years of accepting things because "that's how everybody else does it" can lead to a lack of self imposed honestly, awareness, sensitivity and thinking therefor hindering clear communication with their horse. 

The other major negative created by these "blinders" is that it consistently seems to "push down" that little voice in the back of a person's head that says things like, "Doesn't that seem like a bad idea?" therefor causing the horseman to either have a false sense of security or to ignore their instincts to NOT do something.  By dismissing that voice,  all too often a traumatic incident for either horse and/or rider occurs.  Then the now scared, injured, frustrated, traumatized person and/or horse finds someone like me and say "please fix us." I wish these "blinders" could be removed BEFORE things get to extremes, but somehow the "hopefulness" people carry with them when they work with horses seems to outweigh the general common sense.

We always joke that hindsight is 20/20; but really for me, most incidents, issues, "vices" or dangerous behavior can usually be tracked to down to an initial point where they horse tried to communicate with the person and either was ignored, not addressed, or addressed but not helped to "let down" from what was bothering it.  Too many times all three of these options occur because instead of equine "professionals" slowing down and "breaking down" and explaining what exactly is going on, why, and then offering bits and pieces in how to address it, they tend to offer a "faster" alternative with less of a standard for both the owner and their equine partner. 

Without the clarity, understanding or a standard people usually 1.) don't understand what is really going on when their horse is offering unwanted behavior- i.e. they get distracted by the "big" physical movement rather than seeking to influence their horse mentally and emotionally, 2.) cannot assess why their horse is offering what he is, and 3.) do not have quality and effective "tools" in order to influence a change in their horse.

So the next time you watch something and don't understand it, don't just accept it.  The next time you offer your horse something and you don't know why, stop, and figure that out before you try with your horse.  The next time that little voice starts to pop up in your head, leave "society's opinions" at the door and trust your instincts.

Keeping things simple, honest and real will bring the fun back into your ride and will remove the "surviving the ride" feeling- I promise!

1 comment:

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