How has your horse been doing this past week?
Did you have good days? But also bad days?
Don’t worry – my horses also perform better on some days and less on others. And that is completely normal!
After all, we have a living and feeling creature at our side, which has better and weaker days just like us.
Yet, given this, on bad days your trust and relationship can grow immensely.
How does this work?
Before I explain to you how you can increase trust & respect even on “bad days”, I would like to talk to you briefly about making mistakes.
Because everyone of us makes them – and they are simply part of our daily life. I know that many people are afraid of doing something wrong also in horse training.
Therefore, these people put their exercises in their heads beforehand – and they’re are suddenly overwhelmed and don’t know what to do when the horse reacts differently than expected. Different from the actual plan.
This makes them inflexible – and also a little bit unattractive, because we almost want to put the horses into certain drawers.
Mistakes: Limitation or chance in horse training?
What I am pointing out is: Mistakes are not bad! Of course it is great and reasonable if you constantly improve your horse and want only the best in all areas, of course also in the common training.
However, the worry about making mistakes slows us down, and it is especially these mistakes that are our potential to grow together! Because if you allow (especially in your head – in life and in horse training not everything always goes according to plan anyway 😉 ) that mistakes can happen, you can act much more freely and with more confidence.
In my seminars I always point out that you should never assume that you will be able to start exactly where you left off in horse training.
Something that worked well one day does not necessarily have to work well again the next day. That’s why I also start my training every day with the knot halter.
That way I can immediately judge how my horse is doing today, whether he is motivated or rather lazy, relaxed or nervous – and I can structure my training accordingly.
Trust is good, control is better?
But at some point in free work, the moment comes when I undo my horse, take off the rope and let him go – in the confidence that he will stay with me and continue to work as motivated as before.
If I were afraid of running away every time I did this (please practice this anyway only in a fenced area!), my body would automatically tense up, become stiff and I would not be able to act so flexibly anymore. The consequence? Often the horse runs away more than ever…
A reason to be sad? No! Your horse never wants to annoy you or provoke you – that is a humanizing thought.
Your horse simply reacts to you and external influences and yes, sometimes these influences disturb his concentration or confuse him and he runs away. And even if this is not what we want, it is not a problem, because with the right strategy your horse learns to come back to you quickly.
So that you also know in the future how to react best in such a situation, I brought you a video of my mare Chispa today. She goes along with the students at our Hacienda and regularly tests what she has to do and where she can save some energy 😉 Of course she tries that with me too!
One step forward, two steps back.
Chispa can distinguish exactly when a rope would prevent her from running away and when she is free. If I have tried to keep her at the knot-holder she never tries to avoid or run away – so I cannot correct this behaviour on the rope.
This would be the first step if something does not work with your horse: Take one step back.
Often it helps to strengthen the base before going forward again – and this procedure is absolutely sufficient!
But if it doesn’t help to take a step back, we need other strategies to clearly explain to our horse what kind of behaviour we want from him.
Dealing with emotions in horse training
But beware, this has nothing to do with dominance in the common sense! Aggression, anger or disappointment are ALWAYS absolutely not helpful in horse training. I know how difficult this can be sometimes.
But: Your horse does not want to provoke you with his behaviour.
Provided he hasn’t been scared or simply distracted, he usually just wants to test whether he can still rely on you as the “leading animal” – and whether you really know what you want.
From this point of view, your relationship can benefit immensely from such challenges!
You now have the chance to show your horse that you give him security, know exactly what you want and have everything under control.
So now everything depends on how you behave in this situation.
The most important thing is to control your emotions.
Always remember: A good leader does not get angry, aggressive or even disappointed if another horse does not pay attention to him anymore. It knows its place, is self-confident and – to put it in a somewhat humanizing way – knows about its qualities.
So you should now definitely try to feel exactly the same. Keep in mind that every challenge is a chance for you to become a better “boss” and to bring more trust and respect into the relationship with your horse.
How you demonstrate your leadership skills
So what you have to do if your horse runs away from you, I show you in my video with Sasou.
My commitment to you!
I can promise you in any case: If you leave out negative emotions, such “test phases” will become shorter and shorter, until at some point they stop completely.
They are your chance to make your point of view clear and to prove your leadership skills!
So do not be afraid of making mistakes. Just try to listen to your intuition and gut feeling – they are usually your best mentors in horse training.
Of course you should always try not to make mistakes, but don’t think too much about it. Mistakes happen and always offer a chance!
And with this mindset you will see that your training together, playing with your horse, is much more fun!
When you start to feel more and think less, you and your horse will quickly come to a more eased and trusting relationship – so believe in yourself and just have fun with your horse, even if not everything always goes according to plan 😉