Sunday, March 27, 2011

No Two Horses Are Alike

We all know this and we all accept this fact, but I still think its important to remind ourselves of this every once in awhile.

Here is an example.

There is a theory in the horse training world that if a horse is scared of something and you let them stop and look at it, you are justifying their fear and increasing the fear response.

Okay, this makes sense. And with Secret that is true. I tried letting her look at things she was afraid of in the indoor when I boarded her at my friend's barn. She ended up afraid of her own shadow and I made myself a bigger problem to solve. I don't let her look at things anymore, I make her keep working. The theory works for her.

However, when you are riding John, if he sees something that he is afraid of, and you urge him to keep working, he is convinced that it must be a monster and we should gallop away (usually in the opposite direction) as fast as possible. If I let him stop and look, he sees that it is nothing to be afraid of (or at least if it is something to be afraid of, it gives his brain time to get back inside his body), he relaxes and then we can proceed.

Both of them tend to spook easily, but the approach to keep them calm and relaxed is completely opposite.


  1. How true is that! That is why I am learning to listen to advice, but to keep Pippi in mind. the same trick that worked with one horse, may not work for her. When she sees something scary shs must be allowed to look at at. here is the sequence:
    OMG -what is that?
    back up-stare.
    Look at human
    look at scary thing
    look at human, have human say it is okay
    approach slowly
    approach again
    oh cool, it's nothing,
    silly human
    walk on

  2. Your sequence made me laugh out loud! My mare uses the same one, although she doesn't get to "oh cool" without a lot of praise.