Horse Attitude Adjustment – How Horses Are Different
If things are not going the way we want with our horse, there needs to be a horse attitude adjustment.
Fortunately, it is our attitude and thoughts that need to be adjusted.
Horses need our understanding and proper attitude, and then their behavior will shift.
To change things with our horse it is helpful to rethink some definitions, attitudes, and mindsets.
Wait! Am I saying all we have to do is change ourselves to change our horse? That’s pretty much it, so put on your thinking-learning hat, and we can begin making those changes.
Let’s start with some Horse Definitions that can help us to think and understand horses differently:
Horse Definition 1:
A horse is a different species. A species is a group of living organisms consisting of similar individuals. Horses are Equus. We are Homo Sapiens. Because we are two different species, we need to learn to think differently.
Horse Definition 2:
A horse is a different species that primarily uses their body to communicate rather than voice communication. People tend to use verbalization – words and sounds. We can learn to resist using our voice and instead use our body to communicate like horses do.
Horse Definition 3:
A horse is a different species that is a flight animal. Primarily, their instinct is to instantly run away or escape when afraid. People sometimes choose to fight or go into a self-protective fetal position. When our horse gets afraid for their safety, their speed and strength can shock us. It is helpful if we are more aware of our surroundings and changes in our surroundings like horses are.
Horse Definition 4:
A horse is a different species that is a herd animal. Their safety comes from the herd. We need more awareness that we are bringing the horse into our social structure and taking them away from the safety of their herd.
Horse Definition 5:
(Archaic) A beast of burden.
Horse Definition 6:
A horse is a different species that we want to befriend and form a partnership with. When we do this, something new emerges: together we are greater than we were as individuals.
It is helpful to understand all of these definitions, but horse lovers are more interested in Definition 6 – creating a partner. Horses are so much more than a “beast of burden” and horse lovers want to have that “special something” they know is possible.
If you want to have your horse do things for you and with you because they want to, then keep reading. Here are some helpful mindsets for us.
First, what is a mindset?
1) The established set of attitudes someone holds
2) What we hold in mind.
3) The way we set our mind.
In order to change things with our horse, we can learn to change our Mindsets:
Helpful Horse Attitude Mindsets:
Helpful Horse Attitude Mindset #1:
There is always a next level, and everything will look and feel totally different when you get there.
In other words, things can get much better than we can possibly imagine from where we are right now. And when they do get better, there will be another and better level after that, and another after that. It’s very exciting to think about.
Helpful Horse Attitude Mindset #2:
Attitude is everything.
It pays to adopt an attitude that is positive and continually improving.
Things can get better, happier, easier, more fun, simpler, more gratifying, farther, faster, with more attention, with more understanding, with more willingness – there can always be improvement in every area. It is up to us to notice the improvements. Or they will stop coming.
Helpful Horse Attitude Mindset #3:
Safety is of utmost importance – for both us and our horse.
(See: The Golden Rule of Horse Safety for the simple yet powerful technique that will immediately make you and your loved ones safer with horses.)
Helpful Horse Attitude Mindset #4:
The horse’s needs come first.
We invite them into our world and there is no way for them to figure out what to do or how to behave unless we teach them. Their highest needs are:
1) Our positive attitude
2) Communicating our leadership through our body movements.
Helpful Horse Attitude Mindset #5:
Horses need leadership in order to feel they can survive.
It may be hard for us to realize that horses are afraid minute-to-minute that they may not survive. If we abdicate leadership, they feel totally responsible for their own safety and they have to take over.
Don’t abdicate leadership! Be the leader your horse needs and craves.
Helpful Horse Attitude Mindset #6:
Horses can experience one-time learning.
The result you get is what the horse thinks you want it to do or what it has learned in the past. This is true especially if there is an emotional charge to it. We need to stick with what we are teaching long enough to be sure they are learning the thing we want them to learn.
Persistence shows leadership.
Remember that leadership is what they need and crave. Learn to walk the fine line between persistence and overdoing.
To do this: Break things down into small pieces and quit when you get a positive, incremental change.
Helpful Horse Attitude Mindset #7:
Actions and inactions have consequences.
What we teach them has consequences. What we fail to teach them also has consequences.
Most things we want our horse to know need to be patiently and incrementally taught. Prepare your horse for success.
Helpful Horse Attitude Mindset #8:
We can over-simplify emotions in order to understand horses better.
Of the four primary feelings of Mad, Sad, Glad, and Scared, horses typically experience two: Glad and Scared.
Scared is their “go-to” emotion and is usually experienced as flight from something they fear, or freeze and then flight.
Glad is understood and experienced as dignity and being pleased with self/leader.
Pleased should be our “go-to” emotion. Be pleased all the time. Think about how much nicer it is to be around someone who is pleased than most other emotions. We want our horses to want to be around us.
When asking your horse to do something, make sure to pick a small thing that you’re sure your horse would be able to do. Then, begin with the feeling of pleased, then ask your horse to do the thing you are sure they will be able to accomplish, then return to ‘pleased’ the moment your horse is trying to do what you have in mind.
How To Show You Are Pleased
It’s kind of like the game “You’re Getting Warmer.” Each little step lets you know if you are getting closer to or farther away from the answer. Reward each little step in the right direction by pausing and feeling pleased.
Be pleased at each little try and then ask again. When your horse figures it out, stop everything and be totally pleased. Remember to use your body when you ask – as if you were trying to communicate with a foreigner who doesn’t speak any English. Soon your horse will start looking at you differently and things will improve in surprising ways. Soon your horse will seem smarter.
Other Emotions That Scare Horses
Other than Scared and Glad, any emotion they don’t understand tends to be experienced at Fear/Scared.
Examples of emotions that scare our horse are: feeling sorry for them, worrying, feeling rushed, feeling nervous, thinking about something else, thinking about something else that is emotional or upsetting, getting frustrated, getting upset, getting angry, living in the past, holding on to the past, holding a grudge about the past, even just talking to someone else while not paying attention to our horse.
Horses live in the present moment. When we think about something else, our horse feels abandoned and knows they are all alone in maintaining their safety. When we think about something else with an emotional charge, they don’t understand it and it scares them.
Solution: Stick to Leadership, Glad and Pleased – they are our friends.
Helpful Horse Attitude Mindset #9:
You and your horse are in for a lifetime of fun and fulfillment.
If you will adopt these mindsets and methods, you will find this to be one of the truest statements ever.
Why These Helpful Horse Mindsets are so Important
The few minutes you spent reading about your horse is an investment your horse needs you to make in your relationship.
Horses are a different species and they are very smart and they can bond easily with a good leader.
Humans are highly intelligent, so we can learn to understand and respect their nature.
You can refer to the ideas listed above until they become second nature to you. If something seems wrong with your horse, review and ask yourself if you have forgotten to use one of the mindsets.
For further information now, you can check out About Horse Training And Why Our Horse Needs it.
We want to always look forward to spending time with our horse and to come away feeling happy and fulfilled. It is a gift to ourselves, our loved ones, and our horse.
30+ years of supporting horse lovers
P.S. If you would like to get answers for your specific situation, feel free to email Pat@Horse-Solutions.com, Subject: Set up Free 15-Minute Phone Call.