Updated: Jan 20
Horses are prey animals who depend on flight as the primary means of survival. Humans are not. As humans, we need to accept the nature of horses, in order to fully understand them. When horses communicate they do not control or micromanage each other. Messages between herd members are very clear, that`s what we need to be too. If not, we stand the risk of allowing tension to build up in an anxious horse or demotivate a not so forward horse.
Both of which are a bit counter intuitive for us, as we would want to stop and control a flighty horse, and on the other hand keep a not so forward horse going. Being aware of this and train ourselves to be clear in our communication will hugely improve our relationship with horses and make them eager to work and easy to ride.
The number one thing that demotivates horses is asking them to do something they are already doing. When solving this, the real work is not about changing the horse but about changing ourselves. To become aware of when we are doing something and when we are doing nothing. Because it`s when we are doing nothing that the horse experiences a reward for doing the right thing.
Below is a video of me working with Dynfari who is not very forward, especially when being in the arena. For him to become more motivated to work, I actually have to train myself more than I train him. More specifically I have to train myself to not ask him to do something he's already doing. This video shows ground work, but the same of course applies to riding. Click the pictures to watch it!