Sometimes when things go wrong with our horses we are quick to point the finger. “My horse keeps running on the wrong side of the barrel, My horse keeps hitting the barrel or My horse won’t do this, my horse won’t do that”.
Horse aren’t that smart, they don’t just run into things for no reason and they don’t think things through and decide to ruin your day. Horses get tired and sore, horses get scared and angry.. They will fight or flight. Meaning they may buck or kick up, tune you out or they may take off running (flight).
Most often it is us as riders that are not giving the right message to our horses. One extreme would be not giving them any guidance or leadership at all and they walk all over us or refuse to work. The other end of the spectrum would be “making” them do things instead of setting them up for success and asking them for what we are looking for. When we make them do something they don’t learn they just do it because they are scared or frustrated.
When your horse makes a mistake think about why they did what they did. What were you doing or not doing that prevented your horse from making the correct move. Were you giving them a conflicting message? Were you leaning to the inside? Kicking and pulling at the same time? Maybe you actually asked with your body and your horse listened even though in your head you meant to do something else?
Is YOUR body doing what your brain is trying to tell it? Maybe its YOU and not your horse making the mistakes.
Be aware of the messages you are sending to your horse and have some compassion for him if you are having an off day and perhaps sending some confusing messages to him. A horse can feel a fly land on him, he can surely feel your body off balance or horse leg bump him accidentally. We work to get our horses broke and soft, but the pitfall of that is that they listen better. This means we had better ride better!
Ride for your horse and be considerate and aware of the messages you send him (whether you mean to send them or not).