Have you ever bought a horse and felt that it was drugged when you looked at him because now that you have got him home, he has turned into a fire breathing dragon? Or perhaps you have had a horse for years whom you got along really well with but now the time has come to start with a new horse and you just can’t seem to gel with him or he is continually pushing your buttons?
I have heard of these scenarios many times and although there are some dishonest sellers out there, I would hate to think that it is such a common pracitse and in helping these people with these horses, it has become evident to me how important your leadership is. I have seen horses change in an instant the moment they are with a different person. From becoming happy and willing to do anything to becoming disinterested, narky and even aggressive or vice versa.
So what is it that causes such a dramatic change? Being human, we will either blame the horse (he is naughty etc) or blame ourselves (I am not good enough!) but I think that neither of these solutions is good for us, nor are they going to help us get to the bottom of what is happening. Instead we need to be thinking about what our horses need.
Have you ever gotten into a car and found that the driver isn’t as adept at driving as you? Did it make you feel safe? No way! Yet when you hop into a car where you know the driver has good skills, you know you will be safe and can relax. It’s kinda like that for a horse too. As a prey animal, they need to know that the person in charge of them is good enough to stop them from getting eaten! To a horse, their life depends on this so it is their job to check out and make sure that this leader (be it horse or human) is up to the mark and you will see them constantly testing a new horse or human as a result. So whilst a horse is behaving perfectly when you first picked him up, if he starts to find some holes in your leadership, his behaviour will start to deteriorate.
Remember though that just because you have a great working relationship with one horse, it doesn’t necessarily mean that will be the case for every horse. Your leadership I think is something that you are always working on as every horse is different and what each one needs to have in their leader to feel safe and happy may also be different. Next time your horse gives you curry about something unexpected, ask yourself why they might feel that way and what do they need from you to lead them to a happier relationship with you.
Would you like to find out how to become a better leader for your horse?
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