10.02.2010

Relationship problem vs. Training Problem

What Connection,Trust, and a strong bond can do...Mercury and I riding bareback, bridless, cantering and about to jump
In my travels as a trainer, I have obviously come across many horse-human problems. I have been called in to help the human with the horse. They say the horse does "x" and I don't like it or it scares me. As a career problem solver, I have learned to put things into categories so I can facilitate the problem solving process for both parties. The first step is asking is this a Relationship problem or a Training Problem? Also there is another category. Technical Training versus Behavioral training but that is for another blog.

What are some things that fall into Relationship problems? Hard to catch would be one, Head shyness could be another. Refusing to go certain places, or anxiousness and tension. Some people would say these are respect and obedience problems but I look at things from the horses point of view.
If a horse doesn't want to be caught, they may not be looking forward to some things that happen after they are. That list could be a long one starting with hard work programs to just plain bad chemistry with their person, Poor fitting equipment, leaving friends etc. This is a Relationship problem because if the horse was bonded, connected and trusting the person who comes out, they will most likely happily come to you or at least allow you to walk up and halter them.
Another symptom of a Relationship problem would be a horse exhibiting tension while being ridden and spooking. Another symptom of Lack of trust and not having confidence in the leadership of the person handling them.
As someone who has built connection with some horses who really didn't want to work for anyone, I have seen first hand that they will give so much when you take the time to build Relationship with them. Often a lot of misunderstood horses can be worked with to gain a great partnership if only you are willing to take the time. I find far too many people just can't be bothered to work with a horse that is not absolutely simply and calm. These horses often have a lot of untapped talent and heart. But the problem is often how people relate to them and their not so easy behavior. Calling them stupid or bad or disrespectful.
The word Respect is thrown around horse training far too casually and it becomes the label for every problem behavior. Some Disrespectful behavior has developed from the persons disrespectful behavior to the horse. Respect is a two way street. This is how I explain it to a horse. I'm going to respect you and your feelings and I expect the same in return. Once these things are in place Technical Training becomes a pleasure and much easier for both horse and human. Think about your horse and how good your relationship is and if it could use some building or he's your best four legged friend!