THIS month natural horsemanship trainers Lisa and Mark Bruin look at disrespectful behaviour by horses.
The Shelley couple try to help us identify if our horses are really meaning to be naughty.
Lisa says separating disrespect from unknowing is probably the most misidentified problem riders have to deal with.
She added: “The big problem for the horse is that many of the handlers are unaware and want to discipline the horse for not performing to their expectations.”
Often the horse may be responding to some discomfort. This could be physical or mental and the horse is only trying to get away from the pressure to seek relief.
As Lisa explains: “It is important for the handler to realise the cause of the problem in order to find the correct solution. Many times the solution does not mean putting the horse in a pressure situation to get what you want.”
Excluding hormonal influences, horses generally try to please the human, as they don’t want conflict.
Disrespect is something that humans teach horses. It is hard for people to set aside their egos to see this, but if you see someone having a conflict with a horse ask yourself these questions:
1. Is the person taking the horse’s actions personally and trying to get revenge?
2. Is the person trying to discipline the horse long after the event took place?
According to Lisa: “In either case it is unlikely the horse is going to relate the person’s reaction to the incident and therefore he will just resent the person or respond to the person with fear.”
Horses are reactive creatures and do not think like humans, so they will not deliberately try to do things to spite us. Many handlers try to describe horses through human terms and emotions. It is easy to forget they are animals with a relatively small brain that think very differently to us.
Lisa says: “The reactions of the horse are based on two things: experience and instinct.”
Self-preservation is always strong in the horse and instinct tells them to be cautious or curious. This is where a young or inexperienced horse could get in to trouble if the person reacts with too much pressure.
“If we don’t trigger their flight instinct or expose them to bad experiences, they can learn in a respectful and interested manner and be, in my opinion, a joy to work with,” adds Lisa.
So next time you find yourself having a conflict with a horse ask yourself: Is he being disrespectful or does he not know or understand?
And try to change the way you present things to the horse in a thought-out, non-aggressive manner so you can enjoy learning together.
For more details of Lisa and Mark’s work phone 01484 603907 or 0778999 0129 or alternatively email firstname.lastname@example.org
The website is www.lisabruin.com
Sophia Saleem will be back with her diary next month.