This subject follows “The Ten Irrefutable Laws Of Horsemanship.” It will empower you in a life with horses, allow you to become a better horseman improving every day, and will make you a better human with your relationships with other people in your life.
Let’s make an example. Pretend you own a boarding barn and most days you want to spend your entire time out in the barn no matter what weather is coming from the sky. But eventually there is an irritating boarder where you just want to hide in the house to avoid them. If you have ever experienced this feeling then I want you to apply that exact feeling to the horse that sees you come into the barn. If the horse doesn’t like you or what you do to them the reaction from the horse will also be to hide. Maybe this won’t happen at first because you are believing that food equals love and they come to you for the food. But when asked to actually work, the horse says goodbye.
What most professional trainers and horsemanship instructors do is they try to CHANGE THE HORSE or they teach the students to change the horse. This never works. Evidence for this can be seen with the barn owner in the above example. The barn owner tries to change the irritating boarder with written signs or confrontation. Eventually the boarder leaves or is asked to leave. The same is true in a marriage when one spouse tries to change the other.
The key to horsemanship is to change yourself. Learning leadership is a job made only for you and your self improvement. I often joke that the only gimmick I would sell to a person wanting to become a better horseman is a full length mirror. When having trouble, stand in front of it and figure out what is wrong with you.
In the boarding example above, what if the irritating boarder went to the barn owner and said they were going to change themselves and try to become a better person. You can agree that this might take some time but at some point the barn owner would no longer be afraid to come out of the house when the once irritating boarder arrived on the farm. This same experience will happen over time as the horse recognizes the change in you. They will want to follow you because you have become a leader.
I have more to say about this but now you know the core of what horsemanship is. It is leadership and it comes from changing YOU and not the horse. No gimmicks needed.
Here is a 2 minute introduction to The Ten Irrefutable Laws Of Horsemanship
Here is an hour long introduction to The Ten Irrefutable Laws Of Horsemanship
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There were 201 deaths caused by farm animals in a year. This included horses. But there were over 1 million visits to the emergency room in a year for injuries caused by horses. If there is a good chance of being injured by a horse then why do we still get around them? The answer is probability neglect. The probability of being injured around a horse is high but we love being around them so we neglect the probability.
The horse that will hurt you is your own. This law is about complacency. As we become comfortable around our horses we start taking short cuts. Another aspect to this is that with experience people tend to become over confident with other people’s horses. In other words, with each passing day that a horse doesn’t hurt us we start to think that they will never hurt us.
Whenever working with a horse, always use a halter and lead. Stay connected. The idea behind a physical connection with a horse is that it prevents the horse from positioning themselves into a spot where they can hurt you. There are some exceptions to this but the principle is there.
Place yourself between the horse and the exit. This is an interesting concept that needs to start with a story or two.
I define horsemanship as leadership. There are no other ways to look at this. If you can’t become the leader of your horses then they will become the leader of you. And not all horses are good leaders!
Leaders cannot lead without first knowing their audience. Leading a child is different than leading an adult. The same holds for horses, but it is a little more complicated than that.
No one will be led unless they feel that they have been listened to first. If a man has no legs and you bark an order to walk to town, your leadership will end there and nothing will get done.
This law of horses only works when Law 7 has been placed into effect. In other words, no one is willing to be led unless they are listening to you.
Energy is everything, and like water, always seeks the lowest level.
To treat any person or animal other than as their species is disrespectful. Treating someone like a dog is as offensive to that person as you treating a horse as a human is to that horse.
Rewarding bad behavior is the most common mistake people make every day with their horses as well as the other people in their lives. Horsemanship IS leadership, but there can be no leadership if good behavior is not acknowledged and bad behavior is rewarded. It is impossible.
This is a very dangerous situation to be in. Walking into a field of horses with a bucket of grain can lead to your death. It has happened. Horses are like sharks in blood filled water when they think there is food and this includes you with a pocket full of candy.
Countless horses have died from broken limbs caused by pasture mates kicking them with shod hind hooves. There is no excuse for breaking this law.
Treating the horse as a patient requires those treating the horse to respect it and treat it as a living being and not as as inanimate object.