The Quintessential American Cowboy
||Then there are the older horses that have learned
bad habits from previous riders or owners. Now, these previous riders never
meant to teach the horse these bad habits, but that’s what the horse learned.
These horses fill in for the human as long as they can, or as long as it
suits them. Then they just take over and either do as they please (balk,
graze, refuse to go, refuse to stand still for saddling, mounting, etc.,
return to the barn, refuse to leave the barn, and so forth) or do whatever
they feel is necessary to save their lives (buck, paw, run away, kick, pin
their ears, etc.). Most of these bad habits don’t start out to be dangerous
to the human, but they can escalate in that direction very quickly. Unfortunately,
with horses, you can’t just do A, B, C and come out with D to fix problems.
It takes a lot of mutual respect, understanding, and communication between
horse and human.
In most cases, the human really loves this horse, and the last thing he wants to hear is, “Get rid of him before he hurts you.” In some cases, this is the best advice. And then there is the horse. He’s trying and he would much rather get along but hasn’t properly been shown how. He doesn’t want to be in trouble. I can see both sides of the coin. I can see what’s going on, which isn’t good, but I also know how good things could be with some changes on the part of the human. What is best for you and your horse? Be honest with yourself. If you have “too much horse” for the experience, knowledge, and ability that you have right now, you just have “too much horse.” Facts are facts. You can either sell this horse and get one better suited to your abilities or you can work on changing and educating yourself so you can work through the difficulties. In either case, my advice is to seek the help of a professional. There are reputable people who can help you find a more fitting home for the horse and help you find a horse that better suits your experience. Should you choose to keep him and work through your difficulties, you are embarking upon an incredible journey. It will not be short, cheap, or painless. It takes a lot of “try.” You have to make a commitment. You’ll have to pay for your education, one way or another. There will be bumps along the road but there will also be rewards. Most of them will be of intrinsic value that only you and your horse will know. They’re the best kind.
If I were to write a book on training, philosophy, etc. and no matter how many pages I wrote, it would still be incomplete. The more I learn about horses, the more I realize there is to learn. If I had to pick one “main message” I try to get across to people at my clinics it would be “Listen to the horse. He’ll tell you where he’s at and if he understands what you’re asking him to do. The horse can teach you infinitely more than any human because he is the fact, not the opinion.”