Over many years of dealing with horses I have seen how differently they respond to each rider, from the ex-racehorse who became a complete plod when a disabled rider hacked him out, to the school pony who changed from finding ever new and inventive ways of disrupting lessons into a pony who waited patiently for a disabled child to mount, carefully moving off and slowing down if the rider lost balance. Horses don’t know or care who you are, all they know is how you ride, they are very quick a summing people up, and it is an aspect of riding that is often neglected.
As part of my interest in this area of training horses, I recently had the opportunity to attended a taster session run by a company called Lead Change and HorseHeard who use horses to develop leadership and team building skills and for personal development of key emotional and social intelligence skills.
It proved to be a fascinating morning, we started with introductions and a brief chat about what people wanted to get out of the session. There was an interesting mix of people from quite diverse areas, one of the group had never been in contact with horses before.
Following the safety chat, we went to the quiet atmosphere of the school and spilt into 2 groups. It was revealing to see how each of the 2 horses behaved with the attendees, from not moving at all to walking off in the opposite direction. Ultimately everyone did manage to find a quiet way of communicating with their horse without force, which was appropriate for the horse and the horse accepted.
So next time you horse refuses to do something, perhaps think about how you are asking and see if there is something you can change to find a way that will enable you to communicate with your horse in a way he better understands.
Diane Followell Classical Dressage Trainer