Ever had one of those rides where your horse makes SURE you don’t get too big for your britches? We’ve all been there–so here are some handy tips.
[ top image from better-leadership.com]
1. Assess the immediate damage and make it right.
Did you go through a fence rather than over it? Fix it. Did your horse take off bucking and farting through the middle of someone’s lesson? Apologize profusely. Did you get hurt? Get help. You get the idea.
2. Figure out the underlying cause.
Now that you’ve treated the “symptom,” now you can address why your horse is acting like a complete idiot. Is he sore somewhere? Did you overface him with something he wasn’t ready for? Did a deer or a suspicious piece of grass jump out of nowhere?
3. Make a game plan.
We all want to end on a good note–either by ending on something you know your horse can succeed at, or by overcoming some issue. It seems obvious, but if you’re having some kind of problem, often trying something different (as opposed to drilling again and again, frustrating you and your horse) can be your answer. Is your horse refusing a jump? Try a different, more inviting one–even if it’s just a ground pole.
This also applies to the long-term–perhaps the reason your horse is refusing is that he isn’t really straight in the approach, and you may need to brush up on your lateral work so he responds to your leg. There’s no shame in going back to basics for a while to patch up holes in training, and it will make your horse a better partner in the long run. However–if you are too scared or upset in the moment, it may be best to wait till another day when you can fix things calmly and fairly.
4. It’s OK to feel (a little) sorry for yourself.
Yes, you’re spending a lot of money and time on this. Yes, your horse is a beast with a mind of his own. No, things don’t always work out the way you want them to. Personally I find a little pity party in my car or while grooming my horse to be quite helpful. Then I put my “mean girl” pants back on and I move on to find a positive solution.
5. Come back to the barn with a reasonable, concrete goal.
Training animals doesn’t happen overnight. Break down your game plan into bite-size pieces, and tackle them one by one. Voila! You’re well on your way to fixing one problem, so your horse can embarrass you in a new and exciting way tomorrow!
What’s your most embarrassing moment, and how did you make it right?