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How to help our horses learn to be comfortable and happy

Updated: Dec 29, 2022


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The longer I train horses (which in reality really isn’t that long), I hear so many different and conflicting arguments of which way is best to train a horse, horse’s should be used for this or that or in some cases, not be used. I honestly understand why horse owners get so confused and frustrated.


I’ve been told that we can’t change a horse that has had trauma happen to it and we should just avoid triggering that horse. Or that we need to help push that horse into extinction mode and see if the behavior goes away.


I’ve been told teaching a horse to be restrained is good and I’ve been told it’s a horrible thing to do.


I’ve been told horses are here to be ridden and then I’ve been told horses are not made to be ridden.


It’s all so conflicting. What is right and what is wrong?


At the end of the day, I think we need to remember that we are humans and we are going to make mistakes. We are learning a new language as well as our horses.


I think we need to remember that horses were once wild creatures and that at the end of the day, survival is the most important thing to them from an instinctual level and that is something we cannot change.


Horses naturally want to eat, sleep and be with their buddies. Riding in an arena, being tied for endless hrs at a time, going on a trail ride all alone, going to shows, riding in circles....I could go on and on...are all not natural to our horses.


And then we have brought horses into our world and tell them they cannot react to certain things and that they need to ignore their need to survive.


Now, please do not think for a minute that I am saying don’t ride, show or trail ride your horse cuz that isn’t what I am saying at all. I absolutely love showing and performing.


But I am saying that we need to remember and try to understand where our horse is coming from and then do the best we can to help and give them the means to cope in our world of shows, arenas, trailer rides and solo trail rides. This may mean finding a training method that aligns with these values or being willing to change requirements or requests.


We need to be empathetic and stop anthropomorphizing them. They aren’t trying to be bad horses, they are just being what nature designed them to be.


So let’s do better as horsemen and horsewomen to try and help our horses learn to be comfortable and happy in the tasks and desires we are asking of them.


Let’s walk a mile in their shoes and then turn around and ask them what we can do to help their quality of life and functionality be better in our world.


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