How many times have you heard one of your friends say “Well I’m not a horse trainer!”?
Everyone who owns a horse is a horse trainer. Horses want and look for leadership among the herd and they look for it even when they are only with you. Every moment you spend with your horse you are having an impact on their behavior and well being. This happens whether you are picking up the lead rope or taking hold of the reins. All those moments add up to a horse that is calm, respectful, and confident or they can create a horse that is sour, fearful or even dangerous.
As a horse owner, you really have an obligation to seek out knowledge to improve your communication, partnership, and leadership with your horse. Sure there are folks out there in the horse world who know more than you and have a lot more experience than you do, but do not ever underestimate your potential to make positive changes in your horse’s mental well being, movement, and health. And it doesn’t matter what discipline you ride or whether you are heavy into competition or a pleasure rider. Begin a life journey of learning and growing in your horsemanship, and your horse will thank you for it!
Be your horse’s trainer, partner, and leader even during the most simplest and routine times. It can be as simple as leading your horse to his stall. Picture in your mind how you would love for that to look. I want my horse to walk beside me on a slack rope , and then pause or even stop right before I release him to go into his stall. I’d like my horse to turn and face me so that I can safely take off his halter. So have the end in mind, and think about how to work on getting to that place with your horse. You are your horse’s trainer even during more complicated movements such as a canter depart. Again picture in your mind, what a perfect canter depart would look like and feel like, then begin thinking and studying how to get there.
It takes time and practice to become confident in making training decisions for your own horse, and a little bit of trial and error. However, during that trial and error process comes answers to what works and what doesn’t work. Take what you just learned from your training session and seek out more support from books, online training sites, clinics, and professional online libraries and classrooms. Its important to seek out appropriate help, but keep in mind that you know your horse better than any expert, and ultimately you are their number one trainer!
Gail Ford is owner of Mulberry River Farm. She is a local amateur rider and competitor who studies natural horsemanship and studies the fundamentals of dressage.