The Secret That Keeps Horses Trainable!
As you likely know already, horses have at least 10 times
our strength. If they also had our intelligence, they would
probably be riding us humans. Fortunately, horses cannot reason
like human beings and therefore will never have superior intelligence.
Since they don't have reasoning abilities, horse training
becomes a challenge because you now have to understand how
their intelligence works. You have to know what works and
why to really be effective.
The biggest secret that makes it so we can train a horse is
the fear of pain and/or punishment that our creator instilled
in their mind. We can use that built-in fear to our advantage
and teach the horse what we want him to do.
The trick is to not push the horse too far with his built-in
fear. We must never abuse this knowledge because it will backfire.
Once it backfires then we will have problems with the horse
How does it backfire? Let's take a novice horse owner who
fulfills his dream to have horses and train them. Unless he's
studied a horse's nature he will probably get into big trouble
with his horse because of the delicate balance of the horse's
For instance, the very first lesson you must teach your horse
is to have confidence in you. If your horse doesn't have confidence
in you, he will neither trust you. Both are enormously important
to horse training.
Think of confidence in this way. If you're a child who's just
seen a scary movie on TV you probably want to sleep with Mom
and Dad for the night. They'll protect you. You'll be safe
with them. Hopefully, you know these things to be true because
you have experienced it with your own parents.
But if you didn't feel like they'd keep you safe you wouldn't
have confidence in them, would you?
A horse's thinking is similar to that. He must have confidence
in you when you're working with him.
A horse can be taught confidence in different ways. I prefer
the Jesse Beery confidence lesson.
Jesse Beery, a famous horse trainer from the 1800's, uses
his confidence lesson as the beginning place of training his
horses. He said, "This is the most important lesson of all."
To learn more about Jesse Beery go to:
Interestingly, it's also the easiest.
How nice it is that the most important lesson is the easiest
Essentially, the confidence lesson takes advantage of (but
never abused) the horse's built-in fear. In a way, the fear
is harnessed and carefully used to get the horse's confidence
in you. It's akin to getting a child to watch a scary movie
and being there to protect him or her when they get scared.
When the horse experiences the fear, you're there to save
the day. You make it so he depends on you to be his superhero.
When the horse gets fearful, you have to be there to tell
him everything is okay. You do that through petting him. Talking
to him in a soothing manner. Using a pleasant tone of voice.
I have a friend, Gene, who loves his horses but when they
don't do certain things he think they should do, he punishes
them. (By punishing, I don't mean he hits or whips. A horse
can feel punished just by a threatening tone of voice for
Anyway, I rode with a group of people one day and Gene was
in our group. We came upon running water. You could call it
a small river or a big creek. It was about 30 feet wide and
varied in depth from a foot to three feet.
Every horse crossed the water but Gene's. Gene got so upset
that his horse wouldn't cross that he began booting his horse
in the ribs. That poor horse wanted to comply with Gene's
request but the running water scared him. The horse was spooking.
The horse paced back and forth, occasionally sniffing the
water but never crossed it. The whole time Gene's legs were
wildly kicking the horse trying to get him to cross - yet
the horse remained spooky.
What Gene didn't realize is the horse was fearful and needed
his help. Anytime a horse is fearful of a place or a thing
he should be reassured with pleasant, soothing voice sounds
and/or petting him.
If you do what Gene did, you just gave your horse another
thing to fear. Not only does that horse fear crossing running
water, now he fears he's going to be punished for it. And
it's likely that anytime the horse comes upon running water
both fears will crop up and Gene will have a horse that would
like to comply but his instincts are so powerful that he probably
won't (unless Gene figures out what to do).
Think of it from the horse's point of view. You're a horse
that cannot reason and your instincts are self-preservation.
What keeps your self-preservation in check is the built-in
fear. Fear makes you run from danger. Fear is what keeps you
alive. If you don't understand something you fear it even
Now knowing all that, imagine you're the horse and you're
standing at the edge of the river. You won't cross it because
you think there's danger in it somehow. On top of that, someone
is on your back, pissed off and kicking you in the ribs because
you won't go forward.
Not only are you scared of the water, but now you're getting
kicked in the ribs and feeling punished. You want to be obedient
and go forward but your instinct is too powerful and tells
you not to.
It would be like telling a scared child who just saw a scary
movie that he had to sleep in his own damn room.
But what if Gene had understood his horse was scared? What
if he helped his horse deal with his fear.
How would he do this?
When Gene and his horse approached the water he could have
spoken to his horse in a pleasant, soothing manner. When the
horse was getting scared Gene should have recognized it as
fear and not as disobedience.
He could have petted his horse to reassure him all is okay.
He could have talked to his horse in a pleasant manner. He
could have let his horse sniff the water and check it out
on his own.
Instead, the horse was now confused, scared, feeling punished,
less trusting of his rider, and who knows what else.
But if Gene would've recognized the fear in his horse then
he could have helped his horse overcome it. Gene lost the
awesome opportunity to gain a significant amount of the horse's
confidence and friendship in that river scene. Too bad too.
That's a beautiful paint horse.
Copyright © Andy Curry - http://www.horsetrainingandtips.com
Andy Curry is a nationally known horse trainer and
author of several best selling horse training and horse care
books. For information visit his website at www.horsetrainingandtips.com.
He is also the leading expert on Jesse Beery's horse training
methods which can be seen at www.horsetrainingandtips.com/Jesse_Beerya.htm.
Article Source: http://www.hotlib.com/articles
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