Horse training can be a relatively mysterious subject to people who have not studied it. Even more mysterious is a behavioral problem a horse has that causes his owner stress and frustration.
What many horse owners don’t understand is often the handler, not the horse, is causing the problem.
That being said, that is the first consideration in unscrambling the horse’s ill behavior.
For instance, a common problem riders have is a horse being spooky. In layman’s terms, that means a horse is nervous and afraid something is going to “get him”. Thus, whenever the horse and owner go for a ride it’s not usually a relaxing moment.
As a matter of fact, both horse and rider are on edge.
So if we take the premise that the rider is causing the horse to spook, then we must ask, “How is the rider causing this.”
An uninformed rider may not be aware that perhaps he is sitting tensely in the saddle. Also, maybe he’s stiff as a board and has a white-knuckle hold on the reins.
Believe it or not, the horse can sense and feel this tense. When the horse is in the habit of feeling it then the horse’s spookiness is also the rider’s.
Picture it like this. Two deathly scared kids are walking home at night. They both hear sounds and see things. One kid thinks he saw something and nervously asks, “D-d-d-did you see that?” Seconds later the other kid hears something and cries, “D-d-did you h-h-hear that?” Together they intensify each other’s fears and their anxiety grows leaps and bounds.
So it is with the rider and horse. Maybe not to that extent, but still it happens.
And since the rider is human and capable of reasoning, then he or she must be the one to interrupt the pattern of behavior. The rider must loosen up while in the saddle. Relax. Have fun. Learn to watch the horse’s signals that he has spotted something – and then talk to the horse and start giving him confidence.
Soon, the horse’s demeanor will change and the result will be a more relaxed, fun to ride horse.
Whether the rider realizes it or not, he or she is training the horse by just riding. The horse simply reacts to the stimuli he gets. If the stimuli is consistent, the horse’s reaction will become a habit until changed. If the stimuli is tense, causes fear reactions, and so on, the result is a spooky horse.
This is but one example of how us humans can actually be the reason the horse does or does not do something we ask of him. Although it’s true that the rider is not the cause 100% of the time, it’s a good place to start untangling the problem because it’s often where it begins.