is a LOT of what I’ve been hearing lately, from multiple people. The horse isn’t listening to *ME*, the horse is leaning on *ME*, my “bad moment” didn’t solve anything but *I* feel better.
Frustration is part of the learning process and all feel it but what separates us from other mammals is the ability to control our emotions. The horses brain is walnut sized….even the smartest horse is not as smart as a human (no pointing fingers).
Getting after a horse can be appropriate and produce a better result if done quickly and focused and controlled and the horse has a chance to understand. Using the horse as a literal punching bag because you’re upset they aren’t being perfect, well, that’s a different story. It’s 3,000% not ok and I hope that if someone is witness to a situation where a person loses their cool and is truly enraged, you step in.
Whether during a lesson, at home, or even at a show, you MUST control your rage.
The things we see and hear about can seem ludicrous. An example: at a recent event, I took a stroll after my students dressage test. I came back ten minutes later and her father was asking me why a handler would get after a horse continuously when it’s only making the horse behave worse, and resulted in the horse laying down and rolling on its rider. I was at a loss of words. How do you explain that?
Every horse reacts differently but if what you’re doing isn’t helping, tone it down or do something else. Hearing their walkie talkies discussing someone abusing a horse at an event is disheartening.
That is one of many incidents I’ve experienced in the past month and it wears you down.
You always have options. Dismount, take a walk break, go for a hack, count to 10, sing a song, swear at the animal while staying calm and poised, cry. Any of those options are acceptable.
If you like and respect your trainer, know that after we see behavior like that, we feel for the horse and if you can’t control your rage for your horse, do it for us.
“Practice what is difficult”
ie control your rage