Is there hope for the stubborn horse? Yes.
In the beginning, there was a dream. The dream was of us and our horse together and happy.
In reality, we now feel that we have a stubborn horse.
We wish it were another way, and it can be. Definitely.
Our horse will change faster than we can possibly imagine.
In all areas of life the easiest thing to change is ourselves. It is also the hardest thing to change due to our habits, beliefs, and values. But that still doesn’t mean it isn’t really easy to change ourselves or that we shouldn’t do it.
Horses are smart. Fortunately, we are smarter!
With our stubborn horse, we need to be fair, kind, and more stubborn!
Stubborn Horse? First, Be Safe
Safety is always of utmost importance. We, for sure, would not want to approach the horse in this picture from this angle. We don’t ever want to put ourselves or our loved ones in a dangerous position.
Once you have determined that you are safe, try this out. On the ground, with a halter and lead rope on, pick a simple thing that you know absolutely that your horse can do. Pick a safe environment so that you have plenty of room so no one gets hurt. Then, with your body language, ask your horse to do it UNTIL he makes some slight shift in the direction you have in mind. Watch closely. Keep a good distance apart to equalize reaction times.
Keep watching your horse’s face. Is he: Watching you? Looking away? Relaxed? Tense? Afraid of something? Is he listening to you? That’s the big one. Keep asking and watching until your horse does something (the slightest something) in the direction of what you asked.
Know When To Stop
If you will immediately stop asking and relax to acknowledge each little try, quite soon your horse will come to understand you are talking to him and that his leader is telling him to do something. This is also how you become leader, which is probably part of the real issue anyway.
Build little steps and string them together. Each little step is a victory for us and our horse.
Most horses don’t even know we are talking to them or that there is some understandable communication going on. Soon things will begin changing once you convince your horse there is something to understand and that you will out-persist them.
Persistence equals leadership.
Use Body Language
Use your body language to communicate. Imagine someone was speaking Japanese to you and you don’t know any Japanese. You would have to rely on other cues and clues to figure out what they were talking about. If they said “come this way” in Japanese you might not understand. But if they took your arm and ushered you forward, you would get it. Horses communicate with body language, so you will immediately be speaking in a way they have more chance of understanding.
Video yourself so you can review it. See whether it feels the same while you watch it as it did while you were doing it.
Be fair and persistent. (Persistent is like insistent, but more so.)
Probably best not to be riding until your horse understands and accepts your leadership.
Good luck and welcome to a whole new and amazing chapter of life with your horse.
There will be lots more on this topic as we go along.
For more now, you can check out About Horse Training And Why Our Horse Needs It.
30+ Years of Supporting Horse Lovers
P.S. If you want to ask questions about your specific situation, email Pat@Horse-Solutions.com, Subject: Set Up Free 15-Minute Phone Call.