While working with your horse, he suddenly says, “no way am I doing that.” You ask again and you get an even stronger “no!” Why might your horse be resistant to what you’re asking him to do?
Observe your horse’s demeanor. Is he moving freely and easily, or is he stiff? Each day will be different; don’t assume tomorrow will be a repeat of today.
Indicators: walks funny or obvious lameness; refuses to do something he knows how to do; during warm-up ride he feels sluggish or “off.”
Causes: ill-fitting tack, dental issues, soreness, injury.
Resolutions: determine the cause of the pain and work with your vet or other equine professional to resolve the issue(s).
Indicators: refuses to load into a trailer; refuses to go over/pass a scary obstacle; refuses to perform an advanced maneuver.
Causes: lack of confidence and/or knowledge.
Resolutions: build your horse’s confidence using baby steps and getting him to relax; ensure your horse has the proper foundation and knowledge before introducing advanced maneuvers and/or speed.
Take a moment to evaluate the situation and determine the reason behind your horse’s behavior. If he’s unsure or a little nervous, take a step back and work on something he is comfortable with. This will help build his confidence. Once he’s relaxed take him back to where he got nervous and use baby steps to help him through it, only moving forward when he’s relaxed. If you horse doesn’t have the foundation to do an advanced maneuver, then you cannot expect him to be comfortable doing it. Take the proper time to educate and build his confidence so he is comfortable in the advanced maneuver. If you lack confidence, then your horse will lack confidence and question his safety.
Indicators: your horse is not understanding what you’re asking him to do, or only partially getting what you’re asking; your horse is concerned about what is going on outside your work area.
Causes: your cues are inconsistent; you are distracted.
Resolutions: stop and think about what you’re doing and asking your horse to do. Get focused and break down the task into individual steps, rewarding the slightest effort your horse makes.
LACK OF RESPECT
Indicators: your horse runs you over, is pushy, walks ahead of you, decides what you’re doing that day, behaves for the trainer but not for you.
Causes: no clear boundary lines, you haven’t earned your horse’s respect, you’re distracted when you work with your horse.
Resolutions: take the time required to earn your horse’s respect. Establish clear guidelines and boundaries when working with your horse. Always be consistent with these guidelines and boundaries. Focus on your horse and he will focus on you.
Kim Baker, KB Natural Horsemanship, www.kbnaturalhorsemanship.com
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