Are you unintentionally "teaching" the Horse unwanted behaviors?

Frequently, in an attempt to show kindness, folks try to pacify, mask, and cloak unwanted interactions with the horse.

By not "digging in" to what the root source(s) are that contribute to the horse's unwanted behaviors, and "going along with the horse," one is teaching the equine to "take over" in situations he is unsure or anticipative 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 affects the timing, adaptability, quality, and specificity of their physical communication with the horse.
Focusing on recognizing and addressing the initial subtle indicators of defensiveness in the horse, requires a person to start by raising their self-awareness.
*How often if the horse offers an unwanted response, does the human offer excessive movement in their steps or energy to "make" it work without the horse offering a mental or physical change?

*How often is there a pattern in the catching, haltering, leading, going through gate or stall door, location of tying, grooming, tacking, "doing" groundwork, mounting, etc.?

*How often does a person feel like they are hurrying during the interaction to avoid/block/stop the horse from ______?

*How often does a person offer "mechanical" communication without acknowledging the horse's feedback or counteroffers (unasked for, excessive behavior)?

Assessing the answers to the above can help narrow down and address what pieces in human education may be missing.

The challenge is then finding an equine professional who believes the human student. I have lost count at this point of how many new students I meet that have voiced experiences of the total disregard their previous equine instructors had for their questions and insecurities, and were not believed by their past trainers when voicing concerns or when trying to explain their lack of understanding.
Many mainstream approaches in the horse industry involve bullying (despite good intentions) of both the horse and rider into doing things, irrelevant of all the signs of fear, defensiveness, or resistance the equine may be exhibiting.
Then, when the horse is finally at his emotional and mental limit, and physically acts out dramatically and dangerously, after having given many warnings, people act surprised and reprimand the equine for doing so. This just reinforces the animal's distrust and increases his anticipation.

It is easy to be critical about all the behaviors you don't like or see in your horse. Whether working on your own, or under the guidance of an instructor, I suggest starting with asking yourself these questions:
Can you interpret (not assigning human emotions to them) your horse's physical postures and what they reflect of your horse's mental and emotional state- ears, eyes, nostrils, muzzle, muscles, breathing, foot posture, tail position, etc.?
Do you recognize/check in where your horse's focus is, and how to influence or redirect it? Before moving his feet?

Do you recognize how to influence your horse's movement through having adaptable energy whether using the lead rope, rein, seat, or leg energy? Without "driving" or chasing the horse forward?
Are you clear on how to establish spatial boundaries with the horse without creating defensiveness in the equine?
Have you assessed how your horse responds to spatial and physical pressure?
If there is defensiveness toward your communication, are you breaking down your aids into shorter, specific segments to improve how to communicate clearly and effectively?
How is the timing of addressing the horse's "asking" or do you wait until he escalates unwanted responses?
The above questions are your starting point to refine your horse-related skills and education. The increased awareness, the more supportive, relevant communication can be offered to the horse while building his trust, try, and reasonableness.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment!