Thursday, February 2, 2012

I didn't really get around to fine tuning my last post, i just typed the news out, didn't proof read and then pressed post. this is what happens when your tired though, nothing gets done with the usual finesse, used when you have time and energy up your sleeve. There was something i wanted to mention, but didn't get around to previously. Now feels like the right time to talk bout it.

i think I've talked before about how our expectations affect how are horses behave, as does our preparation and training we put into them. Well never are these things more relevant, than at horse shows.This is where a handlers/riders nerves, inconsistencies, or lack of training, all rears in ugly head in the form of horses misbehaving. Now i have never had a problem taking horses to shows for the first time, in fact i have taken four in the last month to there very first events. Its true that the wild mare was exceptionally quiet, but none of mine at least, behave much differently than they do at home. they don't suddenly become monsters, they might walk around with their eyes wide open, but that's about it.

some of it i think really does just come down to our expectations. I don't expect mine to misbehave, and they don't. Because i don't expect it, i handle and act the same way around them that i do at home, so they react as the normally would around me. Now i have been to hundreds of shows in my life so i am pretty calm about the whole thing, i still get nervous from time to time, but i know if i start acting nervous my horse will pick up on it straight away and reproduce the effect ten fold, so i always try and stay very outwardly calm. horses are also suckers for routine, they like the same routine day in and day out, it gives them security. So if your at home and it takes 20mins to brush, saddle up, and fuss over your horse, and then at a show, rush around in panic, it usually this change in their routine and your body language that upsets them. Same if your warming them up, why change the way you warm them up from what you do at home, all this communicates, is that something very different is about to happen, and they have no idea what. I always wander around on a loose rein at home for a couple minutes, i do the same at the show, I'm not suddenly clutching the reins, trying to pull their head in or make them look pretty in front of my fellow competitors, i just let them look around and then carry on like i do at home in the paddock.

Secondly you get out what you put in. If you've missed bits in your training, or don't practice certain things, its not magically going to come together on show day. The main thing is manners, if you kind of let your horse smooch all over you at home when hes relaxed, and be right on top of you, or even paying you no attention at all. You get to the show and suddenly it leaping all over you and dragging you across the truck park, its not because your at a show, it because you never taught it manners, and now when its nervous it doesn't have a leader to look after it. Its always just basic stuff, horses like leaders,  then they feel safe, if your getting walked all over, your not the leader and therefore not looking after your horse. Its not magic, teaching them to stand still when handled, not bump into you, and not be looking off in the distance, will produce a horse that stands calmly at show, because they know the rules, and they feel secure that someone else is the boss and looking after them. No magical, potions, gimmicks, or trick required. Get the ground manners right, so the horse, is calm and easy to handle, by the time you get on its back its already in a calm state of mind and then you can only improve from their. Horses arent born with manners and knowing how to behave its something we teach them, and teaching them always works out better in the long run

I know of, and have worked for, so many people that are sure that there horse is going to be 'wild' at the show, some even giving them calming medicine before the horse has a chance to misbehave. The poor horses most of the time would have been absolutely fine, we just get so nervous we feed our own expectations onto them. There was the one horse that used to drag me around the showgrounds like a steam train, and then leap in the air at the smallest thing, it wasn't a big horse horse but it was pushy, i remember praying that the lead rope wouldn't snap as i tried to hold onto it head and slightly point it in the right direction. I was youngish at the time, and my advice would definitely not have been considered, i was there to "let it look around until it settles, and not upset it". After a few shows i had enough of it, so as soon as the owners were out of sight, i made it stand still, it wasn't allowed to take a step without my permission, also the lead rope was always loose, i never had to pull on it, it wasn't allowed to jump on top of me, shoulder barge or run me down. You know what that horse was perfectly relaxed and calm after that, we never had issues and it was lovely to ride...of course owners thought it was just the calming past finally taking effect....