Self-Awareness vs Masking Unwanted Horse Behaviors

In an attempt to show kindness, folks try to pacify, mask and cloak unwanted interactions with the horse. Unfortunately, not "digging in" to what is contributing to the horse's unwanted behaviors, and instead "going along with the horse" tends to teach the horse to "take over" in situations he is unsure about.
Not many professionals tend to discuss "it" in mainstream lessons, but the mental approach of the rider/handler needs to be addressed. This affects the human's emotional reaction and interpretation of real-time interactions they experience with their horse. Which in turn influences the quality of their physical communication with the horse.
Raising awareness of what, how, and why a person is interacting with the equine can help narrow down and address what pieces in the human's education may be missing and need to be addressed.
One of the most common things I hear from new students is how they felt disregarded, unheard, and not believed by their past trainers when voicing concerns or when trying to explain their fear or lack of understanding.
Many mainstream approaches in the horse industry involve bullying (despite good intentions,) both the horse and rider into doing things, irrelevant of all the signs of fear and resistance the horse may be exhibiting.
Then, when the horse is finally at his emotional and mental limit, and physically acts out in dramatic and dangerous ways, everyone acts surprised and reprimands the horse for doing so, despite all the warnings he had initially given.
So before you start talking about all the behaviors you don't like or see in your horse, first start with yourself by asking these questions:
Can you interpret (not assigning human emotions to them) your horse's physical postures- ears, eyes, nostrils, muscles, breathing, etc.?
Can you learn to recognize where your horse's focus is and how to influence his thoughts?
Do you recognize how to influence your horse through your own energy and intentions?
Do you have clarity on how to establish spatial boundaries with the horse?
Have you assessed how your horse feels about spatial and physical pressure?
If there is defensiveness, are you addressing improving how to communicate clearly and effectively establishing these?
Have you learned how soon the timing is you must address your horse when he is "asking" something?
The above questions are your starting point for YOUR own education, in order to offer honest and specific communication so that you may begin to have respectful conversations with the horse, rather than feel at his mercy.
May be an image of horse and text that says '"The honesty the horse demands of our intentions rivals no other being..." Alternative Horsemanship with Samantha Harvey'


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