I am eager to learn. I find learning fun, challenging, and enriching. How about you? How about your horse?
Did you know that most horses are eager to learn but they require a special kind of teacher to hold that desire for learning? Do you know how to be that kind of teacher?
Being the best teacher for your horse is not as hard as it might seem. Most people get a lot of it right. But there are a few points that require thinking beyond what your heart will tell you. You have to take a deep look into psychology.
Basically, if your horse loves you, he or she will do more for you. Have you ever heard the saying, “A horse will do more out of heart and desire than anything else?” I heard that nearly every day in my early training with horses. It’s a good one to remember. You should always find a way to earn your horse’s heart and you’ll get further, faster, and have a better time for both of you.
Here is where it gets a little deeper into psychology. If you try to win your horses heart by being nice (too nice) you’ll fail. One quick story to illustrate:
I got a phone call the other day and the horse owner on the other end of the line expressed how her horse was pushing her around. Literately stepping into her space and making her move out. It happened when she was feeding, grooming, leading, and pretty much everywhere. “I don’t understand it,” she says. “I’m super nice to her, In fact I’ve doubled up on being nice and I’ve been extra nice lately. I give her treats, I spend time with her. I groom her. I never hit her. I never hurt her. I want to win her heart. Why is she pushing me around?”
Can you see what I see? Can you see how, inadvertently, in an effort to get to her horse’s heart by being nice, she ended up rewarding the wrong behavior?
Imagine a horse that’s big and confident, stepping into your space, taking your space, and you back out because you don’t want to offend the horse. OOPS! That’s what she was doing. Giving over her leadership. Now the trouble really starts. She can’t ride, she can’t lead, she can’t do anything the horse doesn’t want to do. Her horse is in no learning frame of mind. So earning a horse’s heart sometimes requires deeper thinking. It requires being firm at just the right moments (usually during leading or feeding) and causing the horse see you as the leader. Then, at other moments, using rewards and kindness, causing the horse to see you as a friend.
When a horse trusts you, and respects your lead, you will maintain that horses desire to learn. Now, when you approach a new task with your horse, you just have to hold your ground a little longer and reward at the right time and you’ll notice how the horse begins to love learning. Don’t push your horse while he or she is trying to figure out what you want. You should be able to see when a horse is curious and investigative. Also, don’t pause and wait while the horse is standing with a blank expression for too long. I could go on with even more details. In fact we dive deeper and deeper in to mastery with horse psychology and more. You can join me.
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PS. I wrote a poem called “Eager to Learn.” It’s not about your horse. It’s about your own inner strength. Comment below if you want to hear it and I’ll email you the poem personally.