Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rain and the power of good role models

A good role model can go a long way in educating the inexperienced horse. We had some fun out in the park after our arena work, and came across a park employee carrying sticks on his golf cart. Rain was in front with Pie ponying Charlie behind. Rain sees moving cart/rustling leaves and sucks back and bumps into Pie, Pie and Charlie never move but watch it pass, Rain still pressed against Pie also watches it pass and doesn't spook further. Cart passes and we continue like it never happened. Pie and Charlie kept Rain from spooking further because they did not validate her fear. Had they also reacted, Rain would have spooked further because they would have validated her fear/reaction by spooking with her. Good experiences the first time round make the training process much easier. Chances are that Rain will stand still or react even less the next time she sees a golf cart because of her experiences today. 

Horses like to follow, and they generally follow the reactions of their peers/riders. For example- When out on the trail and your horse gets tense our first instinct is to also get tense/ready for a problem. Because you also got tense your horse gets even more tense, because he thought you thought being scared was a good idea. When riding I always try and lead with my emotions. If I feel my horse get tense, I stay loose and take a deep breathe, while I do have a plan of action if my horse does choose to spook, I expect them to follow my lead and stay calm. 

Lesson of the day- Do not ever validate your horses fears, and when out for the first time try and have a good role model horse around to help your inexperienced horses make the right decisions.

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