What is it about horses that makes everyone seem to have to state their opinion? You don’t even have to ask a question but you are often still given unsolicited advice. Ride this way, use this bit, this system, potion, method and so on. So, what do you do about it?
Something that I often hear is “I didn’t want to ruin him (my horse) by doing the wrong thing (training) so I haven’t done anything”.
It’s really sad that this horse has missed out on all sorts of possible interaction with ‘his human’ because of this and, as you are still reading this, you are most unlikely to be the kind of person that would do something that would ‘ruin’ your horse.
When you get some advice, let’s take trailer loading advice as that is pretty common, run it through a few questions before you decide whether or not to use it.
- Can I get hurt?
- Can the horse get hurt?
- Might the horse be afraid?
- Is the horse likely to remain calm?
- What else might the horse learn?
- What’s the worst thing that can happen?
OK, so back to our trailer loading advice. Let’s say you were told to “make the outside of the trailer the bad place to be by making him work hard (running around you) when he is not on the ramp or in the trailer”. This is not uncommon advice so let’s run it through the questions.
- Absolutely! The horse could get frustrated or scared and rear and strike, he could pull away from you injuring you in the process, he could run you over and so on.
- Absolutely! Tripping on the ramp. Cutting himself on the ramp. Getting away from you and going …..
- Absolutely! You will have to raise his emotional level as soon as he steps away from the trailer and ‘chase’ him about. He will certainly be afraid, not only of running in circles but also of you and the trailer.
- Neither of you are! This is a highly emotional and dangerous situation for both horse and handler.
- Several things that you never want him to know – to throw his head up, to rear, to be afraid of you, the rope and the trailer, that you chase him and so on.
- You and/or the horse get hurt and you have to un-train all of this and re-train what you wanted in the first place, a calm and confident loader, if you possibly can.
If you go through these questions and then you still think it is a good idea (obviously not the example above) then you can run it through the ISES 8 Training Principles as well. Just because some training ‘works’ doesn’t mean that it is ethical or good for the horse – trust your instincts.
To see how the Kandoo Trailer Loading method works with the questions above and the ISES Training Principles click here.