In digging through stuff I wrote I came across this line, "For themost part, I believe pretty much all handling problems are rootedin a lack of respect on the part of the horse." I must have beenwriting that in the early morning while my mind was sleeping whenI apparently wasn't. I left out, "barring a physical problem."
About 40 percent of the horses I work with have a physical problemthat in my mind would prevent them from being very cooperative. Ifind cervical, thoracic and lumbar vertebrae severely out, dentalproblems, pelvic twists, shoulders out, entire rib cages twisted toname just a few. If you had the same conditions you'd be intraction. There certainly is no way you'd stand quietly forsaddling or being pulled around.
When a horse is suffering any of the above and a number of otherafflictions that escape me at the moment, it's very hard to assessrespect problems. Respect problems AND physical problems together in the same horses can make any horse a MAJOR handful.
Sometimes you have to deal with the respect issue as best you canto be able to find the physical problem. If a horse will not letyou examine it freely you have to try to deal with the respectissues. And if the horse is not feeling at all well, dealing withthe respect issues may be iffy. In those cases you bounce fromrespect to physical. You do the bonder, then the exam. If youfind a physical problem you deal with it. And then if you havemore problems, you work on the respect again. You bounce back andforth until you are fully connected.
Whenever a tractable, easy going horse suddenly gets very annoyingand hard to handle, I usually suspect a physical cause.
I also believe there are relatively few "broke" horses. I use theterm broke, for lack of a better word, to indicate that state wherethe horse mentally accepts whatever you want to do to it short of(1.) causing it pain or (2.) putting it in a position where it canonly chose between two choices that neither of which *you* willaccept.
For those of you who are going to deluge me with proof that yourhorse is broke because you roped, ridden it to the ends of theearth, or what ever with it...you may be able to do all thosethings on it and STILL not have it broke. Your accomplishments, inthe context of "broke", mean nothing.
If, when you and your horse are together, it is difficult to catch,hard to halter or bridle, impossible to worm, bathe or fly spray,or moves freely into your space, threatens you, moves off when youmount, ignores your presence, won't allow you to pick up its feet,on and on ad infinitum, and it has no physical ailments, it is notbroke. Period. Take it to the bank.
Now then, that lack of respect on the part of the horse almostalways lies within you. You have not established a bondedrelationship with that horse. In effect, because you have notgotten into his mind on his level you are a mere tolerance in hisday.
The more bonded you are with a horse the more respectful andcompliant that horse is going to be. When you observe herddynamics, you see there are horses who have unquestioned respectfrom the other horses. They produce that respect in a verystraight forward, very clear interaction with the respecter. Oncethey have worked it out you see the higher horses being theunquestioned leaders. The lower horses accept whatever it is thehigher horses direct.
When you are with a horse, you are a herd. A small herd but onenone the less. In any relationship, one is superior to the otherin some or all ways. To work in a unified manner with a horse, thesuperior being better be you.
You can in a very short time have the horse come to the conclusionthat it is in its best interests to allow you to be that superiorbeing. Most of the time I can accomplish this in less than 30minutes. During the entire process the horse is free to do as itwants...no ropes, no leadlines, no halter...free. Once thisagreement is reached almost all handling problems tend to fade awayVERY rapidly.
You may have noticed when you read my suggestions for biting, fornot allowing feet to be picked up, resisting worming and spraying,that my basic response is to lay out pretty much the same "round"pen scenario. Well, my experience says these problems are respectoriented. And the round pen scenario I lay out *WILL* establishrespect. That "WILL" may be pretty strong because I don't reallyknow if it will work on all horses. I do know it has worked onevery horse I have used it on so far. It has worked in the samesequence with minor variations on horse after horse after horse. It is predictable, reproducible, dependable time after time.
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Any time you are around a horse, you are telling it something andit is telling you something. The more you understand what the twoof you are exchanging, the better you will get along with thehorse. The two of you become bonded because each of youunderstands and knows what the other is saying so acutely observersthink it's magic. Do you each understand everything? No. Thereare no such relationships.
When I put a horse through the scenario I have laid out, I findlittle need to talk to the horse. It is as though our minds areconnected. The connection will make you very humble. It changesthe horse dramatically. It changes you dramatically.
I do not teach riding techniques as a whole, I do not train horsesto accomplish specific things...there are many out there who dothat. I bring people and horses together into one unit and I'mVERY good at that...no brag, just fact. When that state is reachedthen ALL the other stuff comes a whole lot easier.
Handling problems are bonding problems. A bonded horse, even inpain, will allow you to assess the pain. If you are a bonded paircommunicating with each other, you'll know when your horse is offbecause he will tell you.
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