Solving Your Horse’s Problem By Introducing New Ones

Ironically, the solution to any given problem with a horse, often lies in introducing the opposite problem; one that is uncharacteristic for the horse. The process of finding balance is usually a series of bounces from one problem or extreme to the opposite, until the horse finally settles in the middle. This is typically not intuitive for most horse owners either.

Drafts tend to be slow and quiet

For example, a horse that typically has a problem going forward – is lazy, stubborn, pushy or even slightly aggressive – will often choose the opposite behavior when you start to effectively make changes. In this example, the horse will likely bolt, pull, or try to escape at first once you begin to set boundaries for the original unwanted behavior.

But when you finally get them moving, it can be too much at first

Arabians tend to be fast and excitable

Another example is a horse that has been typically anxious, spooky, fast and normally hard to catch will begin to experiment with being pushy, loosing forward energy or ignoring you once you begin to effectively resolve the first problem. These “bounces” between opposite problems during the process of change are normal and to be expected. However, if you don’t know to expect them then it is easy to get frustrated with a whole new set of problems while seeking balance.

But as they calm down they can get a bit lazy

Many behavioral imbalances are labeled as the horse’s “personality.” But negative behavior is primarily indicative of defensiveness and is entirely changeable. Changing a horse’s behavior (mental/emotional balance) and body (physical balance) means you must become familiar with opposite sides of a scale – two opposing problems – and be able to adjust your corrections accordingly.

For example, balanced emotions means that the horse found a blend of calm/willing and made it a habit. Imbalance means that the horse is either not calm or not willing. At one end of the scale is not calm but very willing – the horse moves quickly, spooks easily, is reactionary and anxious. At the other end of the same scale the horse is very calm but not willing – slow, dull, resistant, tense, cranky. To achieve balance, a not calm horse must learn the skills of standing, waiting, and relaxing. A not willing horse finds balance by learning the skills of moving faster, quicker, and being more responsive. As the horse begins the process of internal change to find emotional balance it will most often overshoot the mark, sometimes by a lot, before finding the middle ground. A not calm horse will go through a phase of not willing and vice versa before finding balance or a blend of calm AND willing.

Expect to see new problems in the process of change. This is progress! With each “bounce” or cycle between one problem and its opposite, both manifestations of the problem will become less and less severe. The horse will become more manageable with each bounce and eventually settle into the middle ground. The horse will find the middle because it feels better internally to the horse as much as it feels better to you. Feeling better is what every body seeks naturally.

Horses and riders learn through mistakes. When you try to correct a problem – too much of something – you will often find that suddenly you have too much of what you lacked before! Having too much or too little is simply an imbalance. Balance is having just the right amount of two opposing qualities.

Leave A Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Equine Imbalance

...."Many problems (of the horse) can be caused by unbalanced patterns of tension in the body"........
....."Uneven tension will often result in uneven body use, difficulty carrying a saddle and rider, stiffness generally 'through the back' or the body as a whole, behavioural problems etc..... " Gavin Scofield D.O.
Founder of Equine Postural Training &
Official Osteopath for the British Endurance team

Acknowledgements

Photos Contributed by:
Jim McCleary - McCleary Photography
Christianne Gentile - True by Christianne
Sarah Wengernuk - Essence Photography

Quote Of The Day

The best horseman, trainers and teachers in all disciplines understand the horse’s structure and mechanism, his natural balance and way of moving, and how he should best use himself to do the particular job required in that specialty
~Susan Harris