This is a new forum for readers that would like to have a somewhat more timely response and additional interaction than the daily Horse Girl postings allow. Don't worry, those postings will continue; this is just an adjunct to them.
I'd like to start by discussing the most frequent topic the Horse Guy and I are asked regularly about at QueryHorse. The reason it's the most frequent topic is because it affects all of our interactions with horses, actually, with all animals, but especially horses because their size requires us to take more notice of and assess that interaction to remain safe.
The biggest question we get is about RESPECT. Respect covers a lot of ground. First, it is the quality of respect itself and not trying to push you; it is also whether or not your horse comes over to you when you approach or runs away (though a playful horse may still run, but there are differences in how they behave when they don't respect you); it is about whether you are the leader and that can only be so if your horse respects you; and ditto for whether your horse follows your commands or balks.
From the questions we get, many, maybe even most people feel that their horses do not respect them. Well, by and large, I have to agree with the equine on this. It is a rare questioner that has, through some personal effort, tried to read up, think about, study, figure out or otherwise investigate what THEY are doing that might contribute to an ongoing issue of disrespect from a horse.
Well, I have to share with you folks that respect is earned through policing the boundaries of what YOU do vs. what the horse does. If you don't know that, you can't insist on your due respect, and therefore, the horse definitely won't give you his/hers. This is also because you wouldn't know what IS your due or how to get there.
This is my thought (and comment) for the day. Is there anyone who might want to contest this observation, or support this conclusion, with some anecdotal fun? I welcome dialog on this topic in the hope that we can better help QueryHorse readers to have better, safer, and more satisfying interactions and rides with their horses.
If I don't get responses, well, I'll take this as license to take you all with me on a trip down an equine memory lane.
I agree with what you say. Many of my riding friends do not feel our horses respect us even though we treat our horses like they were our children. What should we do? Everybody says we don't have the respect of our horses and we don't disagree. But what do we do to fix it? We are getting tired of everybody agreeing with us but no one provides any help for us to correct the problem. I hope you are going to be different.
Well, let me ask you something: what have YOU done to learn about horses in general and your horse in particular? Horses are not human. They have their own way of thinking and interacting with other horses and even seeing. Their biology dictates their actions. Given that they are prey, and humans are predators, I find it amazing that humans and horses can have any kind of interaction that doesn't conclude with a hoof stomp to the head of the human. That is what their instinct tells them to do. That they don't do this for the most part is a testament to the hard work of the horse trainers and professionals that preceded you to your horse's side.
Originally Posted by Jumper2011
Many foals learn from their mothers, that humans are not to be feared immediately. If a horse has a competent trainer to learn from, this impression can become remembered, and thus, the horse can be handled. There is always a residue of suspicion and fear though, brought about by the fact that again, you are a predator and your horse is lion lunch. So what you do in front of your horse will, second by second, inform the horse, of your intentions. He never quite loses the understanding that at any point, you will turn to him and invite him for dinner. Do you know what actions precipitate fear on your horse's part? Do you know why? Do you know how you transmit your scary predator intentions to the horse? These the the underlying biological threads of your interactions with the horse. I would say, first of all, learn how your actions, affect your horse. Read up, work with a trainer, do what it takes. Just don't forget: your horse is not like your children. At all. Not even a little bit. Understand the difference, and you will have started on your way.
Ok, you have made your point. But you still haven't told me HOW TO LEARN about horse behavior and getting respect. You say read up. Ok, tell me what to read. Give me something to go on. I have friends at my barn reading this thread and we all want to learn more. But where do we look? So many horse magazines teach things like, how to jump your horse, how to change leads, how to dress a horse to win at a show, etc. etc. etc. I want to learn how to get his respect. I can't find that in any magazine. I have books! Lots and lots of horse books. I have bought so many books at horse shows, from Amazon, from book stores, from recommendations in horse magazines, from everywhere. But I can't find much on how to get a horse's respect. Oh yeah! All these authors say I got to get my horse's respect just like you, but nobody says how to do it. Give my friends and me and all the other readers starving for this information something to go on. PLEASE!!!
No one can give you advice in a vacuum. All horse interactions with humans start with two sentient beings on either side. The bottom line with most disrespect situations is that the horse for some time had been signalling his contempt for the wishes of the human in small ways. Humans are not usually observant enough to see the small precursors. Therefore, your baseline must start with the very smallest of interactions including body language and all "innocent" behavior. Do you have enough attention span to pay such attention at all moments with your horse? I would start there. I bet you will notice that when you are paying such attention, your horse is an angel. Or, if he misbehaves, it is for a reason such as fright at an intervening event, which is not the same thing as disrespect.
Originally Posted by Jumper2011
As you get used to paying more attention, you may notice a situation in which the horse seems to, deliberately, do something that you find objectionable. Such as, step on your foot. Such as, step away when you mount.
All such events are not innocent. He is testing your resolve. You have to have sufficient attention, time on hand, and resolve, as well as initiative, to devise ways of making him work harder if he misbehaves. Notice I don't say, hit him if he misbehaves. That doesn't solve most problems as it connects pain (bad) with you (not a good lesson.)
If however you instantly reward misbehavior with work and lamb like behavior with rest, well, after a while he will opt for less work.
'Tis a simple concept but hard to put into practice. Try it and see.
That being said, I like the style of Clinton Anderson. Holy moly, he is amazing. Books and tapes both.
Originally Posted by HorseGirl
I agree with what you say here too. But you still dont explain HOW we get our horses respect. You horseguy always say we need it but you have no articles telling us to get it. We need that help!
I admit horse girl, that would help mee too. I have my horses respect but I'm winging it and a better understand ing of the approach would help lots.
Originally Posted by Kevin
I recommend "Clinton Anderson's Methods" google him....you will find what you need. Remember there is no easy answer but it all starts on the Ground!
Originally Posted by Kevin