Everyone is always looking for that “magic bullet” to take care of all of the problems they have with their horses. The problem is, there is no silver bullet. After working with thousands of horses over the decades, three things have become clear.
First every horse is an individual, and second, every horse is a product of its past. Third, two horses can have a nearly identical past, yet hold opposite lessons from it. The best analogy I can come up with to describe this is two children raised by an alcoholic parent. One may grow up to repeat the life of it’s alcoholic parent, getting drunk, beating the kids and kicking the dog, while the other grows up to abhor alcohol and cannot raise a hand to their child under any circumstance.
This individuality makes working with each horse unique. Developing a relationship with horses is much like developing relationships with people. One may be willing, open, and easy to work with. The next may be like dealing a past full of abuse who is suspicious, angry and looking for an opportunity to lash out. Yet another may have a past of injuries which cause problems due to pain or vision loss which cause adverse reactions to what we are asking of it.
This brings to light the difficulty of describing just how to relate to your horse(s). Bill and Tom Dorrance started a revolution in training horses by using methods which allow your horses to relate to you in a way which they can understand. However many people have a hard time understanding the philosophy, and also the mechanics behind things like timing, balance, and feel. Then are is also the misconceptions we naturally believe. First, we must realize that we are NOT
teaching the horse to do things. Keep a horse penned up in a stall with no exercise for a couple of weeks and turn it out in the arena. Chances are it is going to run hard, stop hard, and roll back over it’s hindquarters and run off again. It will run in circles, changing direction and leads on its own. Watch horses in a pasture, they may back up a couple of
steps, or even step sideways a couple of steps to give another horse higher on the pecking order a little more space. Horses that are in a pasture with cattle will chase them around or even get one in a pasture corner and just hold them there (like a cutting horse) just for fun. This brings us to the realization that (rather than teaching the horse) we are learning how to communicate to the horse when we want to do something so that the horse will do it. Secondly we must realize that every time we are handling a horse, we are training it. We are either doing things in a manner which allows the horse to communicate easier, and be more willing, or; doing things which keeps the horse at the level it is at, or;
we are doing things to make our horses resent us and become less willing to be our partner.
Between the vast differences between horses and their issues, and the vast differences people have in learning, writing a how to book on relating to, and training horses would seem to be a futile effort. It would be much simpler if the horses could just tell us with their own voice.
The goal of From The Horse’s Mouth is to let the reader walk a mile (or two) in the horseshoes of of their equine friends. Let them walk in the shoes of horses to learn why the problem lies not in the horse, but in their own deafness to what the horse may be telling them.
From The Horse’s Mouth will be available in November from Amazon