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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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Unpredictable Horses

I enjoy reading your Q & As and now have one for you!

I am visiting my son and daughter in Seattle as of yesterday and arrived to find that my daughter looked awful. Her 5 year old Canadian Warmblood that she has in training threw her yesterday and she had a minor concussion with amnesia for about a half hour afterwards. She was having a lesson at the time and the horse (who is in heat), became agitated after another horse left the ring and suddenly exploded. There was no staying on. Kyra said she had the presence of mind to ask the teacher to lunge the horse when she sat down and recovered. The teacher did this for about a half an hour.

This horse is a love, but this unpredictable behavior is scary! Any thoughts about this issue? Kyra bought her a year ago from a farm about 5 hours north of Vancouver in Canada and she was unbroken. Kyra is a good and patient trainer and she has been very excited about her find. Now it is very depressing, given Kyra's major injury 2 years ago from an unpredictable horse that cow-kicked her in the knee, to have yet another unpredictable horse to deal with. Certainly the heat is a major factor here. But what would you advise?

My very best to you and thanks for any help you can give,


Hi Rondi,

Horses are never predictable. It just goes with the territory and is always a factor no matter what. Mares are even more unpredictable as they have the hormonal changes occurring on such a regular basis. It is always a risky business. Acceptance of this fact is essential to success with horses. I take so many precautions to keep myself safe when I work with young, wild or problem horses before I ride them that you would think I overdue the precautions. However, I feel it is essential. That being said, the more ground work done before the horse is ridden the better. This is more than lunging for ten minutes to warm the horse up. It should be, in my estimation a minimum of 20 - 30 minutes of concentrated, focused ground games and exercises with the goals of not only warming the horse up, but establishing a very strong and immediate connection. I want to make certain I am really 'leading the dance' before I get on that horse's back. This does cut the risks that the horse will get take their focus away from me and on to other horses or distractions in the environment. Once I am riding the horse, if I notice any attention away from me even for an instant, I immediately correct it. That way the horse I am working with never has a chance to make such a connection with another animal that it would explode if the other animal does anything at all. It is a question of how well we can lead the dance and be willing and able to do the preparation to effectively and as safely as possible lead that dance.

I always like the analogy of the parent and child relationship as applied to horses. When working with children, keeping the child's attention is very important and not always easy. Other children distract it along with anything that happens in the environment. It is the same with the horse. I do think it is easier with the horse to hold its attention as we are so physically active with it, when we are working with it. Keeping the animal's attention can come thru the action and movement we are having with it. It does require constant vigilance without any lapses in our attention to the process. Connection with the horse happens at a lot of levels simultaneously. To be aware of this is to be able to asses the connection moment to moment. We will feel the horse's distraction away from us quicker. This allows us the ability to correct it the moment it happens. There is an instant before the action of the horse that we can be aware of if we are really consciously in tune with the animal. This is high level stuff and is hard to teach to a degree. Just talking about it though can begin to give one thoughts and awareness they might not have without the discussion.

Success with horses can be taught as a meditation, which I do if I have a receptive, high level audience. For others it is too abstract. They are the ones more likely to get hurt and hit their blocks faster and the horse's, even though they may be accomplished and winning riders and trainers. There is a joining, a knowing, and a sense of oneness that can happen consciously. Horses always have it with each other and rarely catch each other off guard. This is what I am speaking of. Perhaps you might consider hosting me to your daughter's area. I would love to do that. It would give me an opportunity to help her and her friends to go higher in their relationships with their horses. Our beliefs around who we think horses are and how we can join with them either lifts us higher and higher or holds us at one level to the point of being stuck. It is my mission to lift all higher and higher in this interspecies relationship dance. Please consider the possibilities...

Blessings for a Wonderful Holiday Season,


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