If you were given a million pounds to finish something today that you need to finish, could you do it? If not, any reason you give for not finishing it is just an excuse. Which is fine of course, as long as you realise that…
I think the same could apply to working with horses. If you were given a million pounds to find a way of teaching your horse to stand still without using violence, could you do it?
I bet most of us could. So often in behavioural work, the solution is for the owner to spend more time with their horse which in turn leads to better understanding and communication (which includes listening to him). And I don't mean a few more minutes each day, or visit him 6 times a week rather than 4 times. I mean spend hours with him every day. Spend time hanging out in the field, do some groundwork in the school, lead him out on a 'hack', groom or massage him, ride him in the school or out hacking or both, ride him bareback, bath him, check his feet, take a good look at his saddle fit, do some stretches with him, ride him again, and so on... all in one day, then again the next day and the next. I don't mean gallop or jump him until he's tired, but slow and steady just be with him.
My initial learning was through conventional pony club and riding club - we were lucky enough to keep our horses at home so I got lots of time with them. Then a huge proportion of my learning came from my time living for 5 years with a gipsy horse dealer. We lived on a small holding in a caravan amongst the horses, and I was with them every daylight hour. The horses were my teachers, and if you could spare the time, your horse would be your teacher.
Sadly, of course, very few of us are lucky enough to have that opportunity. The realities of life get in the way - working to pay the bills mostly, or running around after the children. But if you could find the time, just imagine how much you could learn...
Sue Palmer Chartered Veterinary Physiotherapist and Equine Behavioural Consultant Tel: 07976 413488 Web: www.holistichorsehelp.com
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