Did you ever ask your horse what something means to him? For example we often will make a request of our horse to do something. The horse will respond by either doing what you asked, partially doing what you asked or doing something that it didn’t seem you asked for. But what if that is what he thought you meant.

When I work with a horse for the first time. I observe a lot and ask a lot of questions as I would of a new person I was meeting. I ask questions to find out what the answers or meanings are to the horse. I don’t judge the answers. I just want to get a dialogue going. I want to know what the horses responses are naturally. Once I get a feel for the “meaning” of things in the horses mind, I can set about possibly changing the meanings of things that may need re-defining or leave the good responses as they are.

A horse may have been taught an undesirable response unconsciously by his person releasing on the wrong timing. Or he may have learned it to protect and defend himself. Either way, it is what he has determined the meaning of a request to be.

A horse may react to a request to move move sideways by offering backwards or forwards. I would think that this horse is trying different responses or “searching” for the meaning of the request. I would NOT think “oh he is being stubborn or he knows what I want, he’s just not doing it. I would set my intention, think sideways and then release when I felt the slightest try to change the “Meaning” of the request. I’d build up from there gradually.

Another point I’d like to make is the idea that a horse is not listening to you. They are ALWAYS listening. They may not be doing what you request but they are listening. Did you ever ask someone to do something and you know they heard you but they opted not to comply? I see that as the same with a horse. You may want to walk over there and he may want to eat grass instead. This is not intentional disobedience. It is a difference of opinion of what the task should be. So the Question might be phrased ” I see you’d really like to eat grass but maybe you could go over here followed by some body language that would make it clear what you wanted.  If the horse complied, you might show appreciation by letting him eat the grass over “there” when you say it’s ok and on your terms. I try to always keep training fair and balanced. I want to give my horse as much as he gives me. That means giving him things he truly likes ie. Grass, a groom with my hands not brushes, healthy treats like carrots and apples, or a roll etc…down time…Remember all interaction with your horse is an opportunity…
More oats for thought….
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