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Horse Help Center

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Horse Love and how to get it


I am Jenna and I have emailed you before. You had said to read through the other questions before I ask you my question to make sure it has not already been answered so you don't repeat yourself. I have read through all of the questions under Affection and Horses and beleive my question may be different. If you still think that it is not, just lead me to a question that was already asked and I will read that instead...

I am 13 years old and just got my first horse five months ago. She was 15, so should have been between the right age groups for me (No too dead head and not too high spirited) At first she seemed alright, and then she began to get on my nerves. I had rescued her when I bought her and wasn't sure exactly how she would react to anything. She was sold with a goat and boy did she love that goat! I wanted to ride, just me and her once in a while, but she did not allow a safe and fun ride without the goat. We could not go on a trail ride without that goat following behind saying, "BA BA BAAAAAAAAAA!!!" for ever! She was always looking behind herself never paying attention to me or what I was asking. Needed to know where that goat was and why all of the time. We went on pretty long trail rides that that goat did not want to follow on, but did it for the love of the horse. I felt bad because my four year old neice and the rest of my family, including my horse, was in love with it. But I could never spend time with my horse and knew that there was to be no bonding between the horse and myself without it gone. She was so attatched to it that when ever it went 20 feet away from her to sit on the front steps in the sun and let us feed it carrots and treats, she would prance back and forth whinnying very loudly. The goat of course stayed for the treats. I kept the goat and the horse for a couple of months together, and tried to bond with my horse. I spent time with her, brushing, bathing, and etc. without the goat to try to let her know that I love her and that she is safe with me even without the goat. She was not convinced, and either was. So I tried to take her on trails rides with just myself, herself, my friend and my friends horse, WITHOUT the goat. VERY VERY miserable ride. Hated me and hated everyone else around her, only wanted that goat and that was that! She would turn on her own and start to trot back to the house on her own not listening to me in the least bit. This went on for a while. So I had mentioned to my family that I was thinking about selling my horse to a family that had a farm, and maybe she could be around a lot of other animals, including the goat. My family did not want me to sell my horse, so they said that before I sell her, maybe I should give the goat away to someone for a couple of weeks, someone willing to give it back if it didn't work out, but also willing to keep it if it did work out. And if it still didn't work out i could still sell her. So that's what we did. Now, my horse was NOT very happy at all with this situation! She cried and cried and cried and cried and cried and was a nervous shaking wreck all over! When she finally realized that the goat was not coming back, she did something that made me just felt like giving up! Jazzy lives in a small barn, just me, her, my friend and my friends horse, Whimpy, a twenty year old sick gelding. She attached to Whimpy just as she did with the goat!

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! What was I to do? I went on sites and used there tips! Nothing was working, she was set on attaching to everything but myself, and I was devestated. Why wouldn't she bond with me? Why did it always have to be another animal? Why? So I tried taking her on a trail ride alone, just me and her, she wouldn't step on the trail that led away from the house! Everytime she stepped up onto that trail she cried and turned back and was really stubborn. So I started to take a crop with me to use simply as a tool that might help her move forward and not take advantage of me. I am young, weigh 95 pounds, and she knew that she was bigger and stronger than me. I never hit her with the crop hard or out of anger, just simply as a wake up call to get moving, like it is supposed to be used as. Oh she got really scared of this tool and went into an Irish jig sort of trot/walk sideways and it was really uncomfortable for the both of us. Oh I hated that movement and had to stop her all together to get her moving normally again. And when she finally got smart enough to listen to the crop she would walk on the trail but would be shaking and trembling, anxious, and very sweaty that by the time we got back (Only fifteen minute rides of walking) she had looked as if she had just finished a race! I knew that she would not go onto that trail without the crop, so I ended up dropping it in the middle of the ride to help her calm down. She would turn herself right around the second I dropped it and trot back home no matter how much a pulled back, tried to make her go in circles, and said "whoa" to her. It is very scary to have no control over a horse and have them take advantage of you. I began to be afraid of my horse.Whenever I gave her a bath and Whimpy was done with his and was going back to the barn, she would cry, paw the ground, go in circles without stopping, and even rear up on me! She was getting to be too much horse for me!. She was beginning to be dangerous, and I couldn't have that with a four year old around the house and a family who knew nothing of horses. She began bucking while I rode her around the paddock and even with Whimpy around now, she began to get naughty on me. When I went to go catch her, she ran away, when I went to spray hre with fly spray she wouldn'y stand still for me. I could no longer ride her without longing or shooshing her first to get a lot of her bugs out and by the time that was done she was beat. After I shooshed her I couldn't catch her agian. When I asked her to canter she wouldn't go, and when I gave her a tap with the crop she did that Irish gig. I no longer looked forward to seeing my horse, and i was ashamed of myself for it. She began to get spooky and when she was scared she didn't listen to you at all.

One time we were riding through the trails when there was a little snow on the ground still and she took off at a full speed gallop down the trails. I tried everything to stop or at least slow her down! We were slipping and sliding and she wasn't going to stop so I jumped off, afraid of throwing her weight off balance and causing her to fall. Of course she did not stop for me, but kept going. I walked home, my family must be worried sick seeing that crazy horse come home without a rider! I began to hate my horse more than ever, and did not want to spend time with her. I would sit at my bed at night and cry, for I was very very lucky and fortunate than most young girls who would die to have a horse, and I wasn't happy with mine. When ever she got me scared enough or mad enough I would just hop off and cry histerically throw my helmet on the ground and go inside. My friend would ride or untack her for me. My mom said that I sounded like I was dying I was crying and screaming so loudly. My face was red and very wet every time I came back inside from the barn.I love horses and they are the best thing that ever happened to me, why didn't mine like me? I know I messed up toward the end when I got off instead of riding, but I could not do it or deal with it any longer. No ones tips were helping, so I sold her. She is gone this friday to another loving home which I hope can deal with her better than me.I am now searching for a new horse. This time I am looking for a gelding between the ages 10 and 17 that is healthy, slower, gentle, and loving that will be easier for me to bond with and handle. I have lost confidence from that horse, and am scared to get another in case that same situation happended again. I will ride this horse, and check everything before I buy it to make sure it will work out. And this time NO GOATS!!! So my real question is, is what should I do to bond with my next horse? You had said to not over do it with pats and touching. You had given some advice to some people who were dealing with younger untraind horses. But what should I do with a horse that is already trained and in it's older ages? I want to love him, and i want to be loved by him. I have never had this bond between my own horse and was wondering how to prevent history repeating itself. What signs should I look for to know he loves me? Can I make sure he doesn't attach to Whimpy and not me? After all, Everyday I do go to school for six hours, but right when I get home I do not do anything else except go to the barn and play with the ponies. I am always out in the barn, whether it is chores or riding. Should I do a lot of ring work to improve his skills to listening to me before riding outdoors? Is there anything that I can do to make sure that he is not afraid of being ridden on roads while riding on them? My last horse HATED tractors and dirtbikes and almost dumped me a few times! Can you get a horse through being spooked by something? Thankyou, any advice on how I am to bond with my next horse who has already been trained, ridden, and brushed by many other people besides myself would be helpful. Thank you once again.


Also, you had mentioned a women, Amelia Kinkade, a pet phsycic. Would she be good for comunicating with my new horse? What are her prices? Where is she located again?


Hi Jenna,

First off I want to say you have an excellent style and talent for writing. You tell a great story and are very articulate. Please continue your writing as I really think you have a great flair for it. Normally a lengthly email like yours would not keep me reading. Yours did.

One of the first things you say that gets my attentions is; "she began to get on my nerves". This tells me you may take something the horse does personally. Do not do this! Horses never do anything to us personally. They are just being 'horses'. You have little understanding of the basic nature of horses at this time. Horses, of any age and range of experience, are always looking for a leader they can trust and follow. This is how it is in the wild. Domesticated horses never lose this need and deep desire to 'follow a good and appropriate leader'. You are not that as yet. You mainly talk of riding the horse. Bathing, grooming and feeding are nice but do not show a horse how much you care for them. Being a great parent/leader does. This requires knowledge and skills you do not have as yet. However, I have a feeling you soon will be on the road to that knowledge, if you are not already.

First thing is to never blame a horse for anything. It is always innocent as a baby, a very big baby. All behavior that you do not want is the horse fending for itself in the absense of a leader. It is all fear based. Fear of being alone, fear of not being able to survive and fear of unpleasantness and/or pain. Horses form attachment to me very fast, within the first few moments I meet a horse. This is because I know and understand how to step up and be the great leader for the horse from the first moment. It is not about petting or stroking the horse. It is not about giving the horse treats. It is about making each and every move with the horse a conscious and precise request, receiving a 'try' from the horse to comply with the request and the horse getting praised for every 'try.' It takes a long time to recognize when the horse is trying to comply with the request. As you are inexperienced as yet, your horse's 'trying' is not rewarded and it stops even trying. Even asking a horse to step forward a few steps and lead normally is a clear and conscious request. Nothing is assumed, nothing is expected other than a reasonable response (trying) to an appropriate request. Some of this you will not understand as yet. This is normal. It takes a lot of time and experience to really 'get it' with horses. I will ask a horse to take two steps forward and then HO!. Then two steps back and HO!. Then go around me and a HO! This is a little like dancing with the horse. These simple basic moves when approached with the idea that you are dancing with your horse, give you a better and more appropriate concept of the kind of leadership that is required. The leadership of the great parent for their child is what I am speaking of. It is confident, calm (hopefully), precise, supportive, loving and firm when need be (but never abusive). Parents should never be unconsious with their kids. Do you understand what I mean by 'unconscious?' It means not being present mentally with who else is there, even just being conscious with yourself so you do not step in front of a car. Its like having your mind a million miles away from the present moment. Horses are always present, this is where they live, and get nervous when their human is not.

As far as crops, spurs and other aids, even though you say you aren't abusive with the aid, you are still using it to make the horse do something. This is inappropriate use of the aid. We are never to make a horse do something, push horse through its fear or apprehension. This will lead to some sort of war eventually. How do you respond when someone tries to 'make' you do something? It has to be your idea to comply with a request. It is the same for a horse. Coersion does not work. You need to earn the horse's trust and respect through the skillful leadership you provide.

So, my biggest suggestion for you is education and to stop projecting your personal stuff on the horse. The horse is not 'rejecting' you. It is fending for itself as you have not yet learned to be the real 'leader' for your horse. The same thing will happen again with any horse you get until you gain more education and experience. You can begin NOW to be the great leader/parent for any horse you encounter. Support the horse's feelings of safety. As it is a prey animal, whether or not it feels safe with a human (or at any time) is paramount for the horse. It is more important than food, water, rest or anything else. If the horse does not feel safe it does not eat, sleep, drink or anything other than be nervously looking out for itself. The 'looking out for itself' can look like, bucking, biting, charging, rearing, trying to dislodge the rider or run over the handler. So, by having the horse's sense of safety and trust become your big agenda (rather than riding or anything else) you will eventually develop the sensitivity of horse trainers who 'read' how a horse is feeling and begin any interaction with helping the horse feel safe with that human. Doing this involves precise and appropriate requests for basic movement first. Then, as the horse continues to feel safe and develop trust in the human, the action and activity can get higher level and more complex, to the point of the horse jumping through hoops of fire or Olympic style jumping. Educate yourself through books, training DVD's and vids (I have a few available through the web site), watching trainers work with horses and as many 'horse' lessons as possible. Notice I said 'horse' and not riding lessons. There is a difference. Most riding instructors only teach riding and not real solid 'horse' information. Riding instructors will not admit they may not know everything or anything about the horse itself. They usually push a child or adult student to 'show him who is boss, take control and make him do it'. This is incorrect and inappropriate and does not develop trust with a horse. The human becomes the boss. Not good. You want your relationship with the horse to be a partnership, with you as the trusted leader. Only good 'gentle' horse trainers understand this concept. Hopefully, you will embrace this concept as well and being to develop your leadership skills with horses.

It is all about 'trust.' You develop trust with a horse the same way a human parent develops it with their child. Being consistent, patient, skillful, kind, precise, confident, loving, compassionate and supportive help a child trust it's parent. It is the same for the horse. This is what will give you the relationship of your dreams with all horses. Good luck and please keep me posted. Also, KEEP WRITING. You may find a ready career for yourself in the literary world. Please keep your emails to me relatively brief though as I receive so many. Blessings to you always......

Sincerely, Franklin

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