…IT’S ALL ABOUT FINDING THE REASON
Being a horse behaviourist is like standing on a hill. You need a good overview … to see everything in the quickest possible time so that you can begin to really help the horse and the owner.
I always have the ‘Three W’s’ in mind when working out what I can do:
WHAT is the horse doing? What is the exact nature of the problem, this needs observing in as much detail as possible.
WHEN does the horse do it? Does the behaviour happen before or after some other event, can you see what triggers it?
WHY is the horse doing it? If you add the what and when together you can more often than not answer the question of why.
So called ‘bad behaviour’ is the way that a horse tries to explain how they feel about something or somewhere. This could be a particular situation or a particular request that you are making. It is not a case of the horse thinking ‘how can I be bad?’, they are trying to explain something to us but unfortunately in a way that we don’t usually like.
This is understandable, but you can have some success in solving such a problem, especially if you understand that the solution is likely to be a journey – it won’t be a case of throwing some magic switch. Some problems can indeed be quick and easy to fix, but some can take months, or even up to a year.
One of the things I always do when I see horse behaviour that I do not like is to separate the behaviour from the horse. I make this point a lot but it makes a huge difference. We all love our horses, so remember that the issue that you have is with what the horse is doing, not with the horse themself.
Secondly, I like to take a ‘bad moment’ as an opportunity. Being with them when they act up gives you the chance to improve your relationship and your leadership. And it doesn’t matter when this ‘bad moment’ comes. It could be at a very important competition that you’ve been preparing for for months, but if you are really into training and you really love horses you should take this moment to deal with how your horse feels. The opportunity to meet their needs is always more important than your plans for glory.
Finally bad behaviour arises in most cases because we either didn’t prepare the horse enough for what we were asking, or we have made some mistake in the way that we were preparing. Remember that training is EVERYTHING that we do with a horse, not just when riding, but everything on the ground, even how you act around the horse when he is sleeping in his bed. Horses are learning all the time.