I am horrified by some of the “advice” that is dished out to people who are seeking help with their horses – it’s like something out of the dark ages. What is it that makes human beings want to make animals bend to their will, regardless of how they are coping (or not) with a particular situation. All behaviour is communication. If your horse is displaying behaviours that are being labelled as difficult, bad, naughty, disrespectful or problematic they are letting you know that they have a problem, not that they are a problem. Maybe they are in pain or afraid. If they are walking all over you and cannot hear you they are not disrespectful, they are highly fearful and in survival mode.
If we choose to go down the route of dominance and control, this always involves inflicting pain, discomfort or fear on some level. We may succeed in shutting down these behaviours by making the horse too fearful to display them, but we are also asking them to suppress strong emotions. This results in a horse who is either dull and unresponsive (depressed) or unpredictable and explosive (anxious/stressed). And if they are stressed chances are we are too. Is this the sort of relationship you want with your horse, one that is built on pain and fear?
There is another way, and it’s not them, but you who needs to change something.
Step off the merry-go-round of life for a moment. The one where we are so intent on success and winning the battles, where we are so focused on some imaginary future that we have completely lost touch with what is happening right here and now. Horses have no interest in our goals, only how they are feeling right now in this moment, and for a lot of them, it’s not great.
Just STOP! Be present. Be mindful. Listen to your horse without reaction or judgement. Allow them to express how they feel and give them a voice. Help them feel safe. Develop self-awareness and acknowledge your own fears which arise in this process – this isn’t about fear of your horse, but the innate fears which hold you back in life. Your sensitive horse sees them even before you do – they will highlight where you are contained by your our conditioned past if you are open enough to hear it. This is what they are showing you with their behaviour, they don’t feel safe and you can only help them if you let go of your own fear, find your truth and connect to yourself and them on a deeper level. Replace fear and control with trust and cooperation.