This past weekend I was riding a big bay horse at our Ranch Retreat Clinic. He’s gentle, smooth to ride, has a great walk, trot, and lope, and is pretty brave when in new situations. His one fault is that he’s herd bound or love sick for the other horses. So, I made it my mission to help him with that this weekend. He’s interesting to me because he changes very quickly from calm and relaxed to really tipped up when he perceives that he’s being separated from the other horses. He’s even more interesting because he can be in a group of horses that we’ve been riding with and if even one of those horses moves away from the group it concerns him.
I have heard of various methods of changing that behavior and making it easier for the horse to stay hooked on me and more difficult for it to be hooked on to the other horses. Over two days of riding, I tried as many of those things that I could think of with very little change in my horse. However, the one thing that I did learn for sure was that if I pushed too hard to increase the distance between my horse and another horse he was hooked on, I made things worse rather than better. I learned what my horse felt like just before he got really worried and got ready to quit me no matter what else “good” I offered him at that particular moment. He taught me how to stay just this side of trouble and be a little earlier to keep his mind in a good frame rather than a worried frame. I’d like to report that he’s “fixed” and that I’m a heck of a hand but, that would be untrue. I do think that we’re both just a little better from the experience and I appreciate what he allowed me to learn! Have a great day with your horse today!