So there I was surfing Facebook when I see a post with a video of a herd-bound horse who wont be ridden away from her herd. I was stunned at how many posts there were giving advice.
I was further stunned when I read post after post after post after post, advising this horse-owner to “Beat that horse” “Show her who’s boss” “If she gets away with it now, it will be worse next time” “Get some spurs and a dressage whip” “Hire a professional who will be more aggressive with her”
I don’t know, I though there were more people who understood horses! Here is how I would help the herd-bound horse.
Horses, being herd animals (it’s DNA) have a basic need of being together for safety. You know, safety in numbers. If your horse does not want to leave with you, then your horse does not feel safe with you. Period.
You need to become someone who your horse feels safe with.
First of all, stop thinking you know what’s going on with your horse and cleanly observe, just the facts. Like she looked left, she looked right she swished her tail, one ear is facing me and the other is facing backward. Get use to observing putting emotion and interpretation aside for a bit. You can download my free e-book, it’s a 16 page lesson in observation.
Next, get use to leading your horse from behind the shoulder. Figure out how to make a right turn without making three lefts. Lead from both sides. When you learn to lead in all directions from both sides, remaining behind the shoulder, this way of being will transfer to your riding.
Next notice thresholds or places where your horse stops to look or worry. You will find these places when you are walking next to your horse, behind the shoulder. Essentially your horse has to go first to find these places. These are the places where you and your horse will learn to trust one another if you don’t push her through these thresholds.
When you get to a threshold, stop. Stay behind your horse’s shoulder and wait, as long as it takes for your horse to choose to move forward. If you’ve waited longer than 5 minutes (look at your watch) you can ask your horse to either move laterally or backward. Do not turn around to leave, while your horse is worrying, just retreat backward.
You have to get out of your and your horse’s comfort zone. Start in a safe place and slowly as your horse tells you ( over the course of several days) he’s ready move closer to the edge of your comfort zone, this is where your newfound skills will be necessary. This is where you prove something to your horse.
Do this for 7 days in a row. Walk enough to find these thresholds and do not push your horse through them. Prove to your horse that you will listen! After 7 days, do this every other day for another 7 times and then use this same protocol when you ride.
Do you see how this person is in the riding area on the ground next to her horse? This is how you transfer this skill to riding.
This strategy transfers to riding but you will have to create the environment in your relationship with your horse that has your horse trust you! You can help, not force, your horse to go into scary places. I can help and would be happy to.
Author and International Horsemanship Coach
“Changing Lives, One Relationship at a Time”
15,000 served and counting!