Horses Fears or Human Fears?
Mud! Puddles! Hights! Wind! Sudden movements of the rider! Steep ground! Waves! Rivers! Lakes! Towns! Dogs! Cows! Pedestrians! Motor Bikes/ Quads! Cars! Drones! Street Signs! The dark! Farriers! Shadows! The list is endless! But why is one horse so very scared of it and the other isn´t?
It IS INDEED very simple!
Some people tell me that it is not normal that our horses do not scare of dogs and so on. They ask me why that is. And I have the easiest answer you can imagine: Because I never told them it should be scary! I didn´t! I mean, most horses grew up with and around people and if no one ever told them that a dog is scary - why would they care? If a horse had not so much human contact growing up how would it know that a river is scary? It is because the human told it so. The rider ideally starts a relationship with the horse (if not, you should buy a motorcycle) and in this relationship you start building trust. Trust goes in two directions - following or running. So if your horse trusts you and you give it confidence about a situation the horse will likely be confident in this situation. If you are scared of a particular situation, the horse will most likely run off. Imagine you see a car comming towards you riding your horse. You tens because it could scare the horse. Your horse feels you tensing up and thinks - Oh shit, my human is absolutly spooked. What could it be? What changed? Oh, there is a car! That must be it. I am totally scared of that thing now because my human knows better. And this is how it starts. If you train your horse with fear, there is always something scarrier than you. If you work with your horse based on trust, it will follow or carry you everywhere. Somewhere I read: "You have a solid foundation with your horse when it trusts you more than its own flight instincts!" I loved that phrase! You not only build a partnership with your horse but you actually help building a strong confidence in your horse. So why are our horses not scared of dogs - because they are very confident that the dog would rather run off if confronted. They learned that with the rider and now took this into their daily life. Sometimes dogs are running around in the field barking and the horses DO NOT CARE at all. So by building a trust based relationship with your horse you reenforce their confidence throughout their daily life. When I was younger I had a loan horse. She was a scary thing - not scared but really scary. So in the beginning I was not alowed to ride her without supervision of her owner. I was grooming her and had to wait until he came home from work. So one day, it was a few weeks after I went there first, he came around the corner whilst I was picking her hindlegs as usual. He was freaking out and screamed: "Are you crazy? What are you doing there?" It took her only half a second to give me one of the worst kicks I ever got. I have no idea how my thight did not break! My instinct took over and I kicked her right back and she never ever kicked me again. I turned around, the owner lost all his color and I confronted him. He told me, that they never ever picked her hooves. When the farrier came they would throw her on the ground with 5 men and hold her down until they were finished! I was shocked. I never had any issues whatsoever with he. Ever! Until he showed up and panicked. This was one of the best examples how a horse reacts to energy around it. (When the farrier came the next time to trim the stallions hooves I came running, screaming: stoooop! I will hold him up and so I did. They never "needed" to hold a horse on the ground afterwards.)
You can learn this confidence and so can your horse.