In order to have success with your horse, there must be trust and confidence in the rider. If the horse doesn’t have full confidence in the person doing the driving, problems can arise. The more a horse is trained and ridden by the same person, the more the horse is likely to trust that person. It doesn’t necessarily mean the horse will accept direction from someone new to the horse. Part of our training is to develop horses for YOU. So training includes changing riders as much as possible in the later months of the program. We often place a new person on the horse to monitor additional training the horse and sometimes the rider may need. Here is our Summer intern working one of the horses to see how he will react to someone else.
Just recently, we had a situation with horse that had undergone extensive tarp training with the tarp placed over his head while under saddle. The tarp was shaken, dragged, tossed in the air, and finally thrown over the horse’s head while being ridden. The point was to work on desensitization. The horse passed with flying colors. However, a few weeks later with a completely different rider that the horse didn’t fully trust resulted in him flinching when a jacket was removed while headed down the trail. He didn’t spook or panic, but he stepped away as the coat came towards his neck.
We already knew it had nothing to do with the object as he was used to tarps. The test was a good one as it showed he still needs some work learning to trust other people. It is one reason we look for interns from the veterinary and equine schools to help out and actually test the training work we do. Just like the fire department, we use real life simulations to see how the horse handles a situation and to watch for areas of additional training.
We also like to stress to people new to horses that just because the horse will respond to the trainer doesn’t mean the horse will act the same way for them. For the horse, a new rider is a lot like being the passenger in a car. Sometimes you don’t trust the driver until you have ridden with him for a while. Horses don’t always have confidence in a new person and need time to decide if they should trust their judgment and decisions. Some horses are naturally more trusting than others and some riders demonstrate good leadership that instills confidence faster than some. Bottom line: success occurs when the rider inspires the horse to undertake a task or obstacle without fear or concern for rider’s judgment.