Let’s say that you have gotten to the point of being accepted into a position of trust with your horse, you have followed all the steps and passed all of the tests that you have been put through. You now feel that the horse is ready to go to another level of training and that you don’t feel that you are capable of doing it, so you start to look around for a trainer to accomplish this for you. You take your time and talk to everyone that you can and you have now settled upon a particular person to work with your horse. It is at this point that most people make a major mistake in the process of relationships with their horse. The horse, in most cases, has been moved to a new place, the horse is unsure and has to readjust to the new surroundings and most importantly the member of the herd that had been chosen to be their leader is no longer around. In the mind of the horse there is complete chaos, the good of the herd has not been preserved, the action of one herd member has affected the entire herd and the trust that had been instilled in that herd member is now lost. To add to this the horse is defensive since there is a change in environment, a handler that may not be willing to take the time to pass the necessary test to earn that trust and many other important points to the horse going through the mind of the horse. That is not to say that the new handler is mean or abusive, they do not understand the social structure of the herd correctly and do not have the knowledge to allow the horse to settle into the process of change. It could also be something that the horse has seen happen to other horses that they feel is not right. Not being able to analyze the situation all they know is that you put them in this position, they trusted you, what is happening is not right and now you cannot be trusted; it is your fault. You have to remember that you earned the position of trust and protection, the one to turn to in time of need and uncertainty, but you are not there when needed.
I have found that the use of an example here has been quite effective and it involves our youngest son when he was about three years old. We had decided that he needed to be with children his own age to help with his social skills and development so we enrolled him in a day care facility. We did all that was right, we checked around, we visited the various places and decided upon one that seemed to be best for our son. From the beginning we had trouble with our son wanting to return to that preschool after the first couple of days. We talked to the management staff and explained what was happening and we were told that he just needed to give him time to adjust. Well, we found out by sitting down and making ourselves understand our son, in his limited ability to communicate, that he was seeing things that he knew were not right. This affected him to the point that he knew it was wrong and did not want any part of the situation that we had put him in. In addition, we lost his trust and confidence for a period of time until we could prove that we would not put him in a similar position. The loss of the trust and confidence made it much harder for us to earn them a second time.
The initial tests that you will be put through, by the horse, and how you react to them is what will form the foundation of your relationship. This foundation is what supports the additional layers that become the relationship, how long you take in building this foundation, as well as the care that you take, will predetermine how strong that relationship will be.
Once that your initial foundation has been put down it is time to start to progress up the steps and this is accomplished by knowing how the horse’s social structure works. Their social structure works in a way that allows for members to better themselves and progress to a higher position within the herd. That is to say that positions do sometimes change, not always for the good of the individual or even the herd. When a change happens that affects the good of the herd there is always a challenge made to return things to where they should be. Remember that horses are like humans in many respects and do have the ability to dominate and move forward. Care must be taken to choose a horse that has a personality that does mesh with our own. The last thing that a person needs is a horse that is more in control than they are. If this is the situation, then the horse will be the one to control the outcome. What has to be is that you have to be the more in control from the start of the relationship and make sure that you are the one controlling the outcome.
Although this all sounds well and good, there are many people who already have horses, have bonded with them and want nothing more than to have a better relationship then they presently have. There are ways of making that happen, what has to happen is that the owner has to make the first moves and the first changes. Here again we must mention that you have already created a situation that may allow for the horse to be in control of the situation. The horse has accepted things the way they are and are not the one that feels that there is a need to change, you do. Since it is your feeling that things need to change you have to initial change, allowing yourself to start back at the beginning and be prepared to take the first tests that can lead to a position of trust.
Most people and I am sure that you are one of them, have realized that it has been choices that have put you where you are today. And, I am sure that you have also realized that it has been positive, rather than negative choices that have given you a greater feeling of accomplishment in you life. So what you need to accomplish is to take control from and retain the leadership position in the relationship with your horse. But, first we need to understand why the social structure of the horse has to operate in a specific manner.
The social structure of the horse is a specific program that has its guidelines and rigid rules that have to be followed to the letter of the law due to the fact that it has not changed in many generations, it works and it does not need to be fixed. The most important point that has to be realized here is that we are entering into their world and their social structure, they have not chosen to enter into ours.
Any thoughts to share?.....
Until next time, “Ride for the Brand”.