What do I need?
Horses have survived for a very long time because their needs are simple. Horses need food and comfort, and horses will forgo food to be comfortable. Now the food part is pretty easy to get and most folks do a great job when it come to feeding their horses. There is a lot to be said about that too but I will save that for another time. It's the comfort part that we get confused on. For example: We give our horses baths, showers whatever you want to call it, cause we think it will make them comfortable. But what happens when you turn your horse out after a bath? That's right, he lays down in the dirt or sand and wallers himself in it, till he has a nice coating of mud. Why? Because that's what makes HIM feel comfortable. Don't get me wrong I like to give my horses a bath with the garden hose too. Why? I like to see them clean and looking good, for me. I also use water to touch a young horse, or a horse that I don't know who is here in training, so they understand I can touch them any place on their body, so they get use to that contact. But I don't have a horse mirror in my barn. Why? Cause my horses don't care what they look like. I do, so they have to endure the bath and a bunch of other things that I will ask them to do for me.
What a horse needs and wants is comfort. In the herd a horse will seek out that comfort by finding his or her place in the herd. That comfort comes in knowing who the leader is and where they fit in. They don't mind another horse being the leader, if they are a good leader, but they don't want to be the last horse in the herd either. So there is this constant need to know where they are in their herd, and most horses are ok with being somewhere in the middle.
So how do I do that? How do I provide that kind of comfort for my horse. Trust me, you don't want to be the last horse in the herd either. So if you have a horse, even one, you must be the leader. If your not, your horse will be, and that means your horse is going to treat you like a lesser horse in the herd. Which usually means they are pushy, pinny eared, they may nip at your or even bite you, to remind you of your place in the herd. The same way they would to another horse when it was time to eat for example, or if something startles them, they will be the first one though the gate, and if you are in the way, they won't notice you as they run you over. So it's important that we humans give our horses what they need, a good leader. It's also the only way we will remain safe when around our horses. But that's what they need and want, a good leader.
Now having said that, you don't have to be mean or heavy handed when giving your horse direction. I tell folks if you have a horse that is a private, using a military term, then all you have to be is a sargent. You don't have to be any more then that. However, if you have a horse that thinks he is a general, you are going to have to have more stars on your shoulder then he does, or, your the one that will end up the private.
How do I become a good leader? Another good question. That takes the magic pill, time. It does not take a long time, but you have to be willing to put in the time with your horse to show him you are THE leader. I teach ground working skills that teach the owner how to be a good leader and, at the same time, teach the horse that the owner is the leader. It's not hard, you just have to want to do what's best for your horse. Turns out it's the best thing for us too...
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Will try and keep you updated with info on what the heck I'm doing with horses and music.