Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
Click on Logo (Original artwork by Lanie Frick for Messick Quarter Horses. Not permitted to be copied)

Monday, November 9, 2009


My friend, Tammy, has written about Fear on her blog, Horsetrailriders. I thought I would talk about why there is fear. But after thinking about this for a few days, and answering her blog, I realized that what I told her is true for a lot of people who have some fear. As you build confidence, your fear diminishes.

What I have learned recently is that you can’t go throughout life without living. You can’t refuse to do something you love just to prevent something bad from happening. What if something bad never happens because you don’t experience anything that you want to do, and that causes you to sit at home, inside, and do nothing. Someone told me, after Finny died, that I was conditioning him and riding him to the best of my ability. I was using him for the reason that I wanted to ride and that is what we both loved to do. So I shouldn’t fear riding because a health issue may arise in my horse or that I may have an accident.

And that would be the same reason for a person not to fear riding in case a riding accident should arise. We can’t go through life afraid of something happening. We can’t go through life - afraid of life. But what we can do is to prevent accidents from happening. Education is marvelous.

So how does a person build confidence? How does someone with fear build confidence? How do you find confidence in something if you never had the experience in the first place? How do you build confidence with horses?

Maybe ignorance is bliss, as sometimes beginners do just fine. I think they don’t realize what could go wrong. People who have been in the horse business for any length of time have either seen, heard of, or experience problems or accidents that could give someone fear. Maybe beginners are so relaxed that the horses stay relaxed. Maybe people who have seen the accidents take precautions to prevent the accidents from happening to them. Maybe when an accident happens, some people who don’t show fear realize that is what it is, just an accident. And, once again, education is a marvelous thing!

We can prevent accidents through learning from experience. We can prevent accidents by doing things safely. We can prevent accidents through educating ourselves about horses, and about safety. We can think before acting. We can act slowly. We can always do things the same way all the time, as horses are creatures of habit. We can have as safe of an environment around us as we can. And when something bad happens, an accident happens, then we need to call that living. That is life.

Maybe through experiences, people learn. I once was told that we learn more when we have problems. I never forgot that statement. When a horse has been sick, I learned more about that disease. When a horse was difficult to train, I learned more about how to train that problem. When a family member got hurt, I learned more about what caused that accident, what could have gone wrong, and how to prevent the problem again.

Nothing that I have experienced in the last 20 years, or 30 years , or even 40 years when I was a youth, have caused me fear. I think it has caused me some agony, some sadness, some sore muscles and body parts, but never fear. I don’t know why, except that I knew that everything that happened wasn’t because the horse was trying to hurt me. Now, there are horses out there that would kick and bite a person if they could, and if that horse was mine, it would be sold if it didn’t bond with me. That horse would HAVE to become submissive/ bond with me/ whatever, but it would have to give up the dominant actions, or the horse would be down the road in a heartbeat, no questions asked. I wouldn’t have a horse around that would hurt me or one of my family!

Fear will diminish with riding, and understanding how horses work, and with experience. If the fear remains, then go back to the beginning. Do some lessons with a really trained, quiet horse. Take your horse for training, and take lessons with that horse. If the fear remains, I would be the first person to suggest that maybe the horse that you have isn’t the horse for you. It isn’t that you are giving up on a horse. Some horses don’t get along with some people, and vice versa. Move on. Find a horse that works for you. Find a horse that is WILLING to bond with you, and be your buddy. There are so many horses out there to not find that special horse. Don’t keep a horse for the reason, “just because you will feel bad to give up on a horse“. If the horse isn’t for you, find the best home that you can for the horse, and move on. Maybe you are not the person that the horse needs. Think about that!

What do you need? You need a horse that you can trust. You need a horse that you can ride. You need a horse that is at the training ability for you to learn.

Don’t think about having fear. Instead, think about how you can ride to learn more about your horse. Think about lessons and/or training for your horse. But definitely think about having a horse that matches your personality, your skills, and your desire.

When you find that special horse, it is wonderful. Replace fear with caution, be safe, and ride with the confidence of knowing that your horse is your friend.

I would love to ride with you whenever you want to. If you need a friend, a trainer, or someone to inspire you, ride with me anytime! Even if it has to be through the internet because of distance. Stay safe and learn as much as you can. Remember, have your horse as your friend, and you will enjoy riding so much more!

Come along on the ride with me!

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