Communication Between Horse And Rider

Posted in: Horse Care, Horse Training

The other day my 5 year old gelding, just up and decided he wasn’t going to load in the trailer.  He’s been in and out of trailers since the day he was born, and of coarse we were on a schedule. So, the first thing I do is get his feet moving, maybe not with perfect patience because I felt his resistance was quiet ridiculous, but I wasn’t overly upset…Yet.  He continued to refuse to load, and I continued to lose my cool.  To the point where my husband comes out of the shop and says, “You need to stop and take a step back.”  At this point my horse and I were so upset that neither of us were thinking straight.  Finally, after taking a deep breath and realizing that I was creating a monster, he loaded, but with much resistance. He was as mad as me about it.   The next several trips he didn’t hesitate to load in the trailer. Did I win?  No. I missed the point completely. But I thought about it a lot after that.

About a month later we decided to take our other trailer that is a slant load. He loaded reluctantly on the way there, and then wouldn’t load to go home.  The same feelings came over both of us as he refused.  I could see the look in his eye and tightness in his muscles as he looked right at me thinking, “this is going to be bad.” So on I go; moving his feet one direction, then yield his hips and point him the other direction, back and forth a couple times.  Then I point him into the trailer and encourage with a little swing of my lead rope. Nothing.  I’m ready to blow my top! Then I take a deep breath, I look away, smile and almost laugh about how ridiculous this is, and how I clearly need to take a different approach. A few minutes later, one more deep, deep breath, some soft words to my nervous partner and I point him in one more time with just a light cluck.  Luckily we both made the right choice.

Proper communication and the person's disposition can make or break the lesson you are trying to teach.

Proper communication and the person’s disposition can make or break the lesson you are trying to teach.

My objective to this story is that there is a way to get your point across without giving the wrong impression.  This goes for communicating with your horse and the people around you.  You can still set limits and give direction, but the way you do it can be the difference between success and failure. Luckily for me this 5 year old is very forgiving and kind. Had I taken the time to reflect back on all our time together, I would have remembered he’s more sensitive and doesn’t handle too much pressure that well yet.  Admittedly he’s still pretty immature for a 5 year old, compared to several of my other prospects, but he’s talented and willing if I give him the support he needs right now.  That shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Almost all people and horses are eager to learn. If you have something to teach, don’t abuse the trust that others hope to have in you. We have power in our words and actions that should be used wisely. So the next time you are giving “friendly” advise or “positive” encouragement, take a moment to step back and make sure it’s coming across that way.

Posted in: Horse Care, Horse Training

About Jessie Salter

Horses have been a part of my life since I can remember. Riding with my Dad as a youngster was what I lived for. There was nothing better than working cows, or racing my dad across an alfalfa field. It seems I never grew out...

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