“The disconnect between average horse people and their horses”
My children caught (you read that right) a feral dog some years ago.
Kevin, as he was named, was a killer. Not of people. but he was aggressive toward livestock. He also was an escape artist of the most determined type. I say was. . . but I shouldn’t. He still is, actually, but improved a bit.
See, I took him to a trainer. . .a dog trainer who taught him all kinds of things. I visited. He was a model citizen. He could be unleashed by an open door, and he would never even look toward the door. He could be around small animals and never try to mutilate a single one. He could walk away and come back when called. He learned it all.
What I wanted was push button. That isn’t possible in living beings, though.
He came back home. What he learned did not matter because WE – the people – had learned nothing. We needed taught far more than he. And that smart dog knew it. It didn’t take time, either. He knew the moment he came home, we did not have the fortitude, ability or determination to follow through to keep him in line, so he took advantage. Or maybe we took advantage in some way, right?
And you know who was at fault?
We were. Not him, not the trainer. . .me, us, the family.
We adapted,and we figured it out. It took time. We were the issue, though. Kevin is still here, and we love him. Kevin has a high prey drive, and that is who he is. We couldn’t change that entirely, but we found ways to make life work that suit us and him.
Horses are the same as Kevin, friends.
Trainers can (and typically) do good work with them, and
you see the trainer with the horse. You’re impressed. You want to be that person riding and handling your horse! You think you’re more talented in the seat and on the ground than you are. No one can tell you otherwise. You ride your horse in that controlled environment. You believe you can go home and it be just like that.
You want to buy or adopt a horse, and you visit the horse under the care of the trainer, rescue or owner. Often, these folks may be professionals, and the horse is behaving in the way he had to the day before and the day before. . .you assume you will go home and get the exact same behavior.
You are wrong, again.
I see horses honestly represented for who they are with the riders they have, and then they go into a different environment, and then, “BAM!”
Accusations and confusion abound, don’t they? Trainers and sellers and rescues reading this – YOU know exactly what I am talking about, don’t you?
A problem horse, the owner/adopter/client thinks, didn’t get good training, was drugged, isn’t what he was packaged to be
. . .but that is rarely the truth.
The truth is that new and average horse folks miss is horses, like us, tailor who they are to the beings they are around and their environment and that knowledge. They react based on what you’re allowing or causing, whether you know this or not.
Horses are WHO you are, basically. I cannot stress this enough. Who you let them be. . .who you allow them to be or ENCOURAGE them to be (knowing it or not).
More than that, YOU are who you let yourself be. . .let that sink in, please, because until you do, horses are suffering the consequences of lack of awareness, knowledge and education.
For you to have a great horse, you need to be a great horse person.
So often, you may be telling a horse 12 different (bad) things, without even knowing you are, and each time you interact .. .you are undoing what may have been a Solid Foundation, GREAT training and a very good horse.
You are creating behaviors, letting them grow, messing up or building up a horse without even knowing what you are doing. I am sure it isn’t what you want to do, either.
Everyone always thinks. . .”Not me. I do not do that,” but I promise, odds are, at some level, if you’re a newer horse person or a typical horse person, you actually do. Frankly, people with years of experience do it, too.
We owe it to these awesome critters to do better, be better and put the blame where it belongs. . .on us.
If you’ve purchase a horse, had a horse in training or adopted and are not seeing the horse you saw under the hands of a professional, please know that the odds are ever in the favor of you needing to invest in your own education, ground work, riding and handling all the way around.
It is worth the investment. . .because they are worth that.