How Horses Think

How horses think…

A student recently came to me and told me her horse was mad at her and she did not know why.
I asked what was going on, and suddenly he was rearing and uncontrollable although she felt
nothing had changed in his routine. He seemed to constantly be bad in one place in the arena.

First of all, horses do not think like humans. They do not usually have ulterior motives and try to
“get us”, as some people may think. Of course there are always exceptions to everything.

Horses learn from 4 sides, the front, back, left and right. They do not transfer a task from the right side,for example to the left side. Thus in training the rider must remember to always do everything from both sides equally to be in balance.

Horses do not want to be bad. Horses in general want to please, they want to chose the most efficient way to do something. Therefore when given a choice to work very hard and expend a great deal of energy, or take the easy soft way, normally they chose the latter.

Horses cannot see directly in front of them or behind them, so check to see if there is a new noise, or
object in or out of sight.

Always check to see if your horse is sore or hurting. Horses almost always show us what is wrong, if we only listen.

Next I ask if you immediately surrender once the bad behaviour occurs, if so, then you are training him to do this.

Sure enough, after some analysis, we concluded the rider had more tension than normal in her body due to life stresses and her horse was reacting accordingly. We must always remember horses are highly intuitive creatures. Sometimes if you think a movement, the horse will perform perfectly to the thought. If you are highly stressed and in a hurry to race through your ride in order to stay on schedule, you will undoubtedly have a horrible ride. Bill Steinkraus once told me, when training your horse ride as if you have all the time in the world, simply relax.

Remember that horses want to conserve energy, so they will always chose the easier option. They also learn by observing each other, so it may help to take another horse in the ring and have him walk through the “danger area” first a few times.

Riders must realize that horses survive on feeling the energy around them, so you must be calm and relaxed, and breathe in order to enjoy a pleasurable ride. Ride in the moment and all will be better.