The phrase, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”, is well known in the horse world and is used often.
Can we all consider a phrase that likely comes from many horses? “You can lead a human to knowledge, but you can’t make it THINK”. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen a horse who was CLEARLY thinking this……
Pat Parelli (a trainer who introduced the concept and program called Natural Horsemanship to help make the word a better place for horses and humans who love them) has stopped selling his products UNLESS you also become a Parelli Member. His reasoning: too many people were buying his products, but not learning when, how, or why to use them. Not only is this bad for his name, but more importantly, it is detrimental to the horse.
People are too quick to use spurs, whips, harsh bits, stud chains and other common horse equipment. These things are meant to be used as “tools”, not “crutches”. Instead of taking the time needed to help the horse understand what is being asked it seems that it is easier for people to use these tools to try and get the horse to immediately do something they want. Instead, if you take your time and actually teach the horse in a way that does not inflict pain or fear, the results are long lasting and you won’t create more problems along the way.
Every single day, horses are mistreated, either purposefully or inadvertently, because of the lack of knowledge people have when it comes to owning or working with a horse. They are not just “stupid animals”, to be forced to do things we want. They are beings with big hearts who try their best to please their human. I think we owe it to them to gain the knowledge BEFORE we start asking them to do something that they don’t completely understand. If you do start thinking before doing, you’ll be amazed at what a partner you will have! You and your horse will have a much easier life together.