Greatest Threat to Your Horsemanship - Part 2

Greatest Threat to Your Horsemanship – Part 2

What is the Greatest Threat to Your Horsemanship?

Read Part 1 here…


Thinking differently!

The word of the current age, the word everyone professes to want, the word that sounds so right, the word that drives me flippin’ nuts because it’s the word that people don’t even consider the definition of when they say how badly they want it. Wow. That’s a long sentence. What’s the word? WHAT is that word that makes me want to gag when someone uses it in a sentence about what they want for themselves and their horse?


Yep. It’s not that I hate partnership – I love partnership with my horse. What I hate is that most people mean “I want my horse to do what I say. Preferably immediately.” and to them, that’s partnership. Well, that ain’t even close to the dictionary definition.

Let’s root this out a bit. A horse needs to respect you. Really?

No, really? Of course that’s absolutely ridiculous. Why in heaven’s name should a horse respect you? Cuz you’re you? You who?


You may WANT a horse to respect you, but the horse doesn’t NEED to respect you. Horses NEED food and water, neither of which you are, I might add.

So the definition of partnership: an arrangement in which parties agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests.

Hmmmm… mutual interests—therein lies the problem. We love to assume that our horse’s interest lies in providing us what we want.

Disrespect is, IMHO something we continuously display TO our horses. We decide what we want to do and then we make them do it. Yet, we want them to respect us.

Example: Let’s say you’re a 12-year-old kid in your room. You’re parents have some friends over who have a 6 year old who barges into your room while you’re drawing at your desk. This kid then grabs your drawing and tells you what to do with it.

How would you feel?

What is the Greatest Threat to Your Horsemanship?I’m guessing when you read the previous line you acknowledged it, sort of and jumped right to this sentence to continue. While you might be inclined to read faster and not stop and put yourself in that position and FEEL how you would feel, I’m going to ask you to. Because that’s the position most horses are in on a daily basis.

In our wonderfulness we’re enjoying our ride and we use/pull/direct/whatever with the left rein so that we turn our horse’s head to the left – cuzzzz WE want to go left, of course. But, if you were in a store with your friend and you wanted to go into an aisle to the left, would you crook a finger into the corner of her mouth and pull her left? Or might you indicate by pointing in the direction you wanted to go?

Have you considered the mathematics of partnership? If you claim you want an equal (or thereabouts) partnership with your horse then I guess you’re completely comfortable with NOT getting your way 50% of the time – right?

Examining the dynamics is important if what you say you want is really what you want. Don’t just bloviate without thought because little things mean a lot to a horse.

Partnerships are developed. On an intellectual level, I believe folks know that. But, on a usage level with their horse I don’t think it occurs to them. When you’re starting with a horse, neither one of you knows how the other thinks, what the other thinks, and why the other thinks it.

It’s like the difference between meeting someone new (buying/obtaining your new horse) then meeting up with them a few times where you become acquaintances. If the horse is well trained and you’re a decent rider, this goes reasonably well for the first month or so. Then, little cracks start showing up. The horse seems annoyed and balky, maybe humps his back or swings his butt at you, pins his ears or barges his shoulder into you as you’re leading him somewhere (don’t get me started on leading—it’s my pet peeve and my half-done book ‘Horse Tricks – Like Leading’ is covering that). You may recognize that last instance if you’re prone to conveniently having your elbow up in your horse’s neck area while walking alongside him.

This would be the part where you decide on the human front, whether or not you want to hang around that person or not. Friends/relationships have to work thru the parts of the other person that they don’t like. Sometimes it’s little things and sometimes it’s a complete 180 between your views. But, would you want a friend with her elbow in your neck or would you want to put an elbow in your friends neck to keep them from walking all over you?

It’s never all sweetness and nice, is it? And unless the two of you figure out how to work these spots of trouble out, there is no friendship let alone partnership/marriage/etc. And it’s not up to the horse to do all the ‘compromising’.

You can’t BUY a friend, can you. But, you can buy a horse and then tell yourself you’re friends. Still, it’s not the same thing no matter how much we would like to believe that.

Read Part 3 here…

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About the author

Lauren Woodard

On horseback since a toddler, Lauren's been training and teaching for over 30 years. She has many years of formal training in hunter/jumper and dressage with Gran Prix and occasionally Olympic caliber trainers. She also lived on a working cattle ranch in AZ for 3 years learning about and moving 2000 head of cattle around. Working with all breeds and any discipline from hunters, jumpers, trail/endurance, pleasure and barrel racers, Lauren has a particular fondness for the challenges of working with and training rogues, renegades, spooks and knuckleheads. Exceptional Horsemanship is Lauren’s version of results oriented learning to be better for your horse and with your horse. She has the ability to observe what is happening between horse and rider and the background to teach the skills and positions required to remedy the less desirable aspects and obtain the results you’re striving for. Lauren has written two books “Curbside Service, Change the Way You and Your Horse Think About Each Other” and “Balky, Balky, I Ain’t Goin’ “ available from Amazon in print or Kindle. And you can catch up with her stuff on her website.

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