I witnessed a woman riding a horse earlier today, who micro managed that poor horses every move.....he was not allowed to go around the pot hole in the grass verge as that deviated him from her chosen path, he was not allowed to have more rein to go up a hill as she didn't trust that he needed it.....he was not permitted to speed up to gain more momentum to climb the steep terrain , nor was he allowed to bend down to stretch his neck when she stopped, he was not allowed a moment or two to realize there was no danger to his safety as he hesitated at the bramble arch .....in fact he was not allowed to do anything without her express permission......and it tore my heart out to watch this!
Unfortunately I witness this type of equine torture daily-and sadly I can guarantee that this is probably happening to a horse near you right now, as it is in every other corner of the world, including every horse discipline, in all horse areas...from kids riding ponies at home to winning Equestrian Olympians! and 99% of riders aren't even aware it can cause problems.
I first became aware of the dangers of treating horses like this around 10 years ago, when I witnessed severe traumas in equines, such as displaced behaviours including head flicking, catatonia, the horse depriving his own oxygen supply ( in the forms of tongue sucking and holding breaths etc), and learned helplessness amongst many other severe mental traumas including complete breakdowns,when I first started working with rescue horses.
I quickly realized that behavioural modifications were taking place within the horses psyche through these traumatic events shaping their need for escapism from this dictatorship of an existence, which took place in many forms as noted above as to alleviate the traumas they face by being treated like a inanimate object-like a MOTORBIKE!
So I implore you to have a good think about how you can say YES more to your horse rather than NO.......and to encourage his input to your partnership, as not to micro manage his every move.....allow him to make some choices of his own.......and PLAY more with him rather than WORK him.
Even if it is ONLY something as silly as putting a barrel in your way when riding, and then allowing him the choice of which way around it he can go, as this will make him try harder for you next time you ask as he realizes that you value his opinion.
Another way to build trust and confidence is to leave him alone to do his job of going forward after you have asked once, without continually touching the reins or trying to correct him with your body when riding in a straight line and trust he will do the right thing.....which can be done in a small area until you both get more confident with things like this :)
Trust and Partnership is what I hope you are striving for with your horse, which starts off small and builds to a true bond and friendship.....rather than Force and Dictatorship which is a sure fire way to get any horse to want to escape you, or even worse to hate you!
As always this article was written to ask you to try to see life more from your horses point of view.... :)
Keep It Truly Natural