7 Cardinal Sins Horse Owners Make

7 Cardinal Sins Horse Owners Make

October 20, 2020 7 Comments

CARDINAL SIN #1: assuming horses enjoy human interaction in captivity rather than ensuring they enjoy it

Believe it or not, horses are still often treated poorly in our human world. In part, it's because people assume that horses love being ridden or worked with and don't take the time to learn and read their horses body language. This type of thinking leads to poor experiences for the horse and often dangerous experiences for the human because, if you expect things to be fun and easy, and then they aren't fun and easy, this leads to frustration, which leads to cruel or inappropriate communication. Some horses do genuinely love human activity, but most don't naturally. However, they can all learn to love it, if... you don't make the mistake of assuming they enjoy it and instead, constantly work to ensure they enjoy it.

2: hiring a trainer that believes the same sin as number one

Training seems hard. That's why so many people send their horses to trainers. The truth is, training isn't hard. It's very simple and anyone can do it safely. All you need is the right support. We have that support. It's called the Horse Mastery University. Sending your horse to a trainer can be a hit or miss experience and you don't want to mistake any old trainer for a natural trainer that has the horse's experience in mind. Too many trainers think they know it all and don't give a hoot about how the horse interacts with people, further exasperating the feeling of imprisonment for the horse.

3: constantly ensuring pristine facilities that avoid normal life situations, leaving horses surprised and frustrated when normal things happen

I love clean, functional places to work with a horse and enjoy a ride. However, this drive for perfection can go too far. Lots of horses end up in perfect facilities, and never get to experience real life. On one hand, it's sad that the horse doesn't experience more life, locked in a stall or safe riding area. On the other hand, it's horrific to see how these horses don't handle normal life situations because they never experience them. If a plastic bag flew across the field they'd jump the fence in a panic. You can't trail ride a horse that doesn't understand rocks, fallen trees, streams, bicycles, sudden movements, cars, pedestrians, umbrellas, fallen down fences, etc. Be sure to leave a couple of normal things in your horses life on a regular basis, so they know how to act when they encounter them.

4: extreme bullying or extreme babying during emotionally stressful situations, rather than operating in middle ground, practical therapy and training

Extreme bullying is simply not acceptable in any environment. When I see a human bully a horse into a horse trailer or sit on a green horse and bully them into submission, I cringe. But the other thing that makes me cringe is when I see a human coddle and baby their horse through every negative emotion. I see people back away from their dream of riding with friends on a trail because their horse gets nervous and then that person becomes an avoid-acholic, constantly protecting the horses emotions, hoping to gain the horse's trust. It doesn't work that way. Trust comes from leadership. Leadership isn't bullying. It's guiding with repetition and rewards. It's consciously exposing the negative emotions and working through them. Babying doesn't work. Bullying doesn't work. Find the middle ground and find your true partnership with your horse.

5: inadvertently rewarding the wrong things by adding pressure or releasing pressure at the wrong times

Feel and timing are a learned thing. You can't be good at real estate or construction or law practice without having some experience in the field. Same with a horse. You have to dive in, make some mistakes and learn from them. One ironic mistake people continue to make however, is to NOT learn from their mistakes. For instance, when a horse pulls the rope out of your hand to eat grass, and you let them continue eating the grass. This type of inadvertent rewarding of bad behaviors happens all the time. Check your daily activities. Check to see if you are doing this kind of thing. See if your horse is learning to get away with something negative and you're allowing, even accidentally rewarding it.

6: spending all your financial and emotional resources in the addiction to horse activities and losing track of human relationships 

Ouch! This one cuts deep. Lots of people don't balance their life very well. We've all seen it. We all have obsessions, addictions, neurotic behaviors, stress relieving strategies and so on, but how well we balance reality with fantasy and distractions is important. Diving into one thing just to avoid another, possibly more critical thing, is not healthy. I've seen people throw entire fortunes away in horse activities. One close friend literally lost $750,000 in pursuit of the perfect horse and bankrupted himself and lost his family in the process. Another close friend divorced her husband because he wouldn't support her unbalanced time and expenses with her horses. She told me personally how she regrets not looking for balance at the time. It's great to be passionate. It's irresponsible to be addicted beyond a healthy balance.

7: not continuing your education as a leader, assuming you already know everything you need to know about horses and discounting what anyone else has to say

If you lined up ten qualified horse loving individuals along a wall, seven of them would defend their position as a "know-it-all" horseman or horsewoman. When in reality, not one of those seven has taken a horse course in years. Three of the ten would engage in quality conversation, not about what they know, but about what you might have to offer them. It's not easy being in that smaller percentage of people, willing to expose your weaknesses and learn from another person, even less qualified people. I am often learning from my students. I learn things about horses, things about myself, better ways to teach and so on. That's why I encourage comments, conversation and healthy debate. Don't be among the majority of horse people who stays close minded or acts threatened by other peoples experience and knowledge. Keep open, keep learning, keep growing. Find out how!

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Thanks for reading,

Don Jessop

 



7 Responses

geraldine mcquoid
geraldine mcquoid

October 31, 2020

Thank you! At 72 I learn everyday from my Mustangs. I have encountered a problem with a new mustang gelding. He does not want me to pick up his front feet. He strikes straight out, not intentionally at me. Thoughts please?

Dawn
Dawn

October 30, 2020

Really enjoy all of your insights and perspectives!!

Rebekah Nelson
Rebekah Nelson

October 25, 2020

Love this! Don’t assume, ensure, well said!

Rebecca Rendon
Rebecca Rendon

October 23, 2020

Number 1 says it all. Thank you for putting this out.

Lil
Lil

October 22, 2020

Thanks. It’s always good to take the time to reconnect with these important ideas.

Laina
Laina

October 21, 2020

Very good and insightful. Don, you always find a way to put a new twist on things to make us think.

Patty
Patty

October 21, 2020

LOVE LOVE LOVE ALL OF THESE!!!

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