Horses Make the Best Personal Trainers

Mar 05, 2019

Horses live in a world that is based on fight, flight or freeze.  They communicate with each other on an action/reaction level. Body language is the main language horses understand.  So if we have any hope of training them for our purposes we really need to manage our own reactions and we need to learn the language of the horse.

When the horse you are working with, or riding on, decides to blow up, you need to truly live in the moment and you need to slow your thinking down.  Overreacting in a moment when the horse is reacting will only serve to escalate the situation.

Paying attention to what is going on in the height of reaction requires immense self discipline.  Fear does not have a role in this scenario, common sense does. When you take the fear out of any situation, you are able to analyze the events more accurately.  You are able to look at danger differently and you are able to manage danger with a greater degree of safety.

You’ve probably heard it said that horses sense fear. This is true because horses are hard wired to look to a leader for their flight, fight or freeze signal.  Generally, the leader is the most confident horse in the herd. This horse is often the stallion but not always. A dominant mare will run the herd if the mare senses the weakness in a herd where the stallion is inexperienced.  The point is… the horse will either look to you to lead or instinct will tell it to take the lead. The decision is made quickly in the horses mind. This is why a lot of horses become “herd bound”. The horse believes the herd’s decision making capability is better than the riders decision making ability and will therefore seek to stay with the herd.

Imagine what is going on in the horses mind if the rider has not established a high level of trust with the horse throughout the training process.  When a big challenge is faced, the horses’ instinct will tell it to abandon the challenge and look for alternative solutions. However, if the horse has learned that the rider is completely trustworthy, the horse will have more confidence in executing anything that is asked of it.

You see, it’s our responsibility to be consistent and trustworthy for the horse.  If we over react to situations and bring drama into the horses world, the horse will, with good reason… abandon us.

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