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Casper the Stubborn Horse

Hi Franklin,

I part board a 9 year old quarter horse named Casper. I've been doing it for 2 months now, but the problem is that Casper seems to have certain moods. Some days he'll be great, he'll listen and everything will be fine. Then other days I can't get him to do a darn thing! He'll constantly try to leave the arena, or he will refuse to move. I've talked to his owner and he says that I have to be stern with him, but I can't seem to figure anything out. I've tried not feeding him any treats until after we finish for the day, I speak loudly and sternly, and nothing seems to work. Have you any ideas for my "stubborn" horse?

Thanks! Cassie

Hi Cassie,

First off, I would not judge him as stubborn. He is simply fending for himself (leading the dance so to speak) in the absence of a skillful leader. It is really NEVER about taking charge or showing a horse who is boss. It is about skillful leadership, as the leader of a ballroom dance is skilled, compassionate towards their partner, lovingly firm and quietly strong in their leadership. I strongly suggest doing something other than riding the horse. Play some games on the ground (imagine something other than riding it to do with a horse). This is where a bonded relationship and trust is first formed with a horse, on the ground. If you don't do any on the ground play and riding is the only thing a human really does with a horse, there truly is not much of a bond as it becomes all about the human riding the horse and the horse is merely a vehicle. If the horse is avoiding you, the ring or whatever, this is a sure sign it is not a happy camper about either its routine, the discomfort it may be in from some pain (improper saddle fit, heavy handed riders, too harsh use of aids, not enough skillful riders and more). If you had to go to work every day either uncomfortable, working with people who didn't really take the time to know you at all and only 'worked' you or your work routine was boring or not appropriate in some way, you would not want to work either.

Change something Cassie. Don't just keep at the same old, same old with your horse. Obviously the same old, same old is not working. Get creative and think outside of the box you are in. Go back to some of the horse's basic training and redo it. Form a bond and earn your horse's trust and respect. It is not a given that a horse should trust you. It must be earned through kindness, skill, leadership, confidence, precision, compassion and consistency.....Good Luck

Sincerely, Franklin

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