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Force or no force?

I have a young horse, he is a friend, and I have started him under saddle. He is doing great. The other day in a trail ride we came upon a slope. Not to deep but a definite down slope. He would not go through. His owner was going to force him by using the crop. I told him no. I got off and lead him through. I thought this was the right thing because he, the horse and I have a very strong bond. I want to develop his skills through trust, he is doing wonderful, he let me bridle him, saddle him, then ride him without ever acting up. The one incident with the bridle was when his owner tried putting it one. He has never acted out with me. He is eager to tack up when we ride and fully enjoys his time under saddle. Did I do the right thing with the ditch?

Thanks, Mary

Hi Mary,

Thanks for your question. There are other ways to request a horse do something it is afraid to do, than using force. One of these ways is to develop a relationship based on "trust". You seem to have done this and it is not even your horse. Is the owner open to having a better way of dealing with the horse's fear than abuse? Many people are not open to cahnging their minds about things that do not go well for them. They do not want to take responsibility. They always want to make the horse out as stubborn or bad. They do not want to take responsibility or time for working the horse through its fear and turning that fear to trust. Do you have the kind of relationship with the horse's owner to be able to suggest alternatives for dealing with the horse's fear other than trying to force the horse through its fear? So many people, nice people, abuse the daylights out of horses by not understanding the horse is afraid like a child would be.

Anyway, if a horse is acting out or acting up or balking at going forward somewhere, there is nothing wrong with taking the safest course of action. Safety is always number one. So, getting off the horse was not a bad thing to do, if the only other thing thought of was abuse with a crop. I do not think you rewarded the horse for balking. I think you did the smart thing by leading the horse down the grade or through whatever it was afraid of. You can always go back and ride it down through the ditch another time. Sounds like the horse's owner is not much of a horse person if you can bridle the horse easily and they cannot. Are they open to learning why you do not have the problem and they do? Hooray if they are and you can show them. You may just be on your way to becoming a fine horse trainer. Keep up the good work. Always give the horse the benefit of a doubt. Teach that most behavior we don't want in horses is brought about by fear or pain. Pain can make a horse afraid as well. It does us humans. Thank you for your kindness to horses. Let me know how it all goes.

Sincerely, Franklin

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