For Love of the Horse

Horsemanship and Trust

I read a good quote about horsemanship recently.  “You don’t ‘train’ a half-ton flight animal who could kill you in the blink of an eye; you prove to him that he can trust YOU more than his own instincts.  That is true horsemanship.”

I can’t tell you how often I have seen horses “trained” in the wrong manner, how many horses I’ve seen “obey” commands out of fear.  It’s incredibly sad.

Our horses are amazing creatures that ALLOW us to ride on their backs.  This seems “normal” to most people, but if you know horses, they are prey animals and to allow another being on their back is not “normal”.  This goes against ALL instincts.  Yet, they allow it.  Our horses are more willing to be partners with us than we know.  I have seen horses hurt themselves to try and please their rider.  As a human being who can reason, we should never allow our horses to be put in that situation.

Take my Mustang mare, Annie, for example.  She was raised on an Indian Reservation in Oklahoma.  The horses there were kept in horrible condition, barely fed to sustain life.  They were whipped and abused and had NO trust in humans. The woman who purchased her from the dispersal sale tried to teach by instilling fear.  She would tie their legs to trees to teach them not to kick and tie their heads to the ground to “desensitize” them.

When I came across Annie, by pure accident, the woman told me she was for sale and I bought her.  I had no idea the trauma she had experienced.  I got her as a 2 year old in 1998.  Today, she is my best friend and my partner.  She is the most amazing horse and will never be able to be replaced.  I taught her to trust, not to fear, and her trauma was so great, there are still times in which I have to remind her that she CAN trust.  As difficult and challenging as it started (for both of us), I’ll never regret choosing this horse.  We both learned a lot from each other, and continue learning, communicating and TRUSTING, years later.

My partner, Annie, and I.

My partner, Annie, and I.

Learning how to communicate with our horses in a way that allows them to build trust will also build a relationship that cannot be surpassed.  When you take a horse that has been half wild, abused, and starved, and turn that distrust into trust, I can’t tell you how good that feels.  Knowing that that horse will never again have to experience that distrust again is priceless.

I urge horse owners to learn about true, natural, horsemanship and do all you can to learn how YOUR horse communicates.  The rewards are unending for both of you.  Let your horse trust you.  Only then can you truly trust him.

“You can never rely on a horse that is educated by fear.  There will always be something he fears more than you.  But when he trusts you he will ask you what to do when he is afraid.” ~Antoine de Pluvinel