A misleading experience. By Don Jessop

A misleading experience. By Don Jessop

March 17, 2019 9 Comments

Read carefully, you might just learn something!

I love it when a horse comes to me from the field, but just because your horse comes to you, it doesn't mean he's responding to you a.nd there is one simple way to know for sure if he's really ready to be your partner.

Here it is:

Be sure to ask for some minor response within five seconds of your horse approaching you to establish leadership.

These are a couple of easy ways to check your horse sees you as more than just a friend.

1. Place your hand or finger pressure on both sides of the nose to ask the horse to back up.

2. Drive back with hands or stick.

Give your horse three seconds to respond to your ask. If he does respond, you've got a nice horse to continue your day with. If he doesn't respond within three seconds, you've got to stop everything you're doing and fix it up, right then and there. This simple response test tells whether your horse truly is or is not connected to you. 

People can easily be mislead thinking their horse is "with" them because he "came" to them.  This is often all too wrong and can lead to dangerous side effects.

Listen to this story:

The woman with sparkly diamonds on her fingers, drove to the barn in her new Tesla S6. She opened the door and pressed her feet into the hard ground, cushioned only by the rubber soles of her new Ariat boots. As she rose to her full height, in that same moment, her eleven-year-old brown and white paint horse pricked his ears forward and began walking toward her from across the dry field. His name was Danny.

The woman loved Danny. She loved how Danny always noticed when she arrived and how he always came to the gait, even from great distances. Of course, she gave him treats every day but... "he would come anyway," at least that what she believed. And why not? The woman was pleasant, kind, and genuinely interested in the well being and happiness their relationship fostered. There was never a reason to doubt the bond they shared. 

The woman only had one complaint. She had owned Danny for years now and he wasn't really improving in his skillsets. He seemed to like her well enough, which is nice, considering she basically rescued him from a life no one would wish on a horse, but he never seemed quite trustworthy on the trail and around other horses. Notwithstanding, the woman believed if she caused the horse to love her and trust her enough, that eventually, they could do anything together. 

But she'd be wrong... and she will never make the progress she hopes for with this horse because...

What she and many other men and women failed to understand is how horses need leaders, not lovers. Don't get me wrong, I love my horse but I also lead my horse. When my horse approaches me, I always reward him, but within seconds I begin tiny little tests of compliance. If he's non-responsive to my little suggestions I can tell instantly what frame of mind he's truly in. I'm never misled by the fact that just because he approached me, that he's truly with me, that he sees me as more than a friend. My horse sees me as a leader. I know the truth because I test for it. DO YOU?

Naturally, an unresponsive horse is a dangerous horse to interact with when other horses arrive or when you go to new places, such as trail rides. So take my advice. Don't get mislead by loving your horse and forgetting to lead your horse into the future.

Sometimes you might not care about progress and just want your horse to know you care about him and for him but don't mislead yourself to thinking small suggestions of compliance aren't important. You don't want a horse that won't respond when you ask. Test and fix the problem immediately. Test responsiveness within seconds of connecting with your horse and you will experience a whole new truth to the quality of your relationship.

Special Note: Be careful but don't give up. Don't assume a slow response is a good response. Give him or her three seconds to move when you send the signal. If it takes fives seconds, ask again, and again, and again until you can get a quality response. Trust me, it will pay off throughout the rest of your day. Be the leader your horse deserves!

Comment below, share this with your friends and reach out. I want to hear from you.

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9 Responses

Laina
Laina

April 10, 2019

Very good advice. So simple, yet so important. Love it.

Kathy
Kathy

March 23, 2019

I was just playing with my two horses at liberty and I wish I had read your article ahead of time. #1 came sooner than the other and was rewarded but within a few seconds, when I asked for a back up she took off again. During our session she was the one who continued to break away from the task at hand. Now I know where our game was broken and where I have to reestablish our relationship. In the end my two performed well together as long as I could keep #1 with me. Thank you Don.

Loretta
Loretta

March 23, 2019

Well said Don.
I have a 1/2 mile walk up to my horse barn, and the herd of 6 have access to all. I regularly keep carrots in my pockets for opportune connecting/leading moments with my 6 year old gelding. I call him and he’ll come. I give him a quick scratch and treat, then we immediately do a few things together right out there in the pasture. I ask him to respond to my pressure, front and back end. Will he come back and reconnect right away? Will he back up and come back with connection, like a yo-yo? My progress with him, as a very dominant horse, with these 3 minute liberty check ins have been very powerful in our connection and relationship building, as well as our overall training.

Robbin
Robbin

March 21, 2019

My mare comes to the gate w/o treat, had to play catching game when I first got her. But I though I’d try this and asked for back up and yield hindquarters. Great response. She is dominate and I play w her “no’s” to get “yes’s”. I do use treats as well. I’m a work in progress for her.

Traceylynn Hommel
Traceylynn Hommel

March 20, 2019

Thank you Don for another insightful and informative Horse relationship guide.

Linda
Linda

March 20, 2019

Great article. I’m putting this into play immediately. Thanks for sharing!

Linda
Linda

March 20, 2019

Great article. I’m putting this into play immediately. Thanks for sharing!

Don and Meg Guynn
Don and Meg Guynn

March 20, 2019

Thank you for these tangible guidelines to continue the conversation with our horses! Super article!

Jill Lane
Jill Lane

March 20, 2019

This is such a great observation and suggestion! I board my horse at a small co-op barn where all the owners have to take shifts for feeding, turning out and bringing in horses. Some of the people have no problem, no matter which horse they are handling, while others find a few of the horses difficult to manage. I think teaching them this simple technique could go along way towards building their horse handling skills and confidence, and the horses all being more mannerly. I will definitely be Sharing this! Thanks.

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