Valentine’s Day is upon us. It’s that time of year when we take a moment to pay tribute to the significant other in your life—your horse. Just don’t expect flowers or anything in return. Horses generally aren’t the most thoughtful species. That small fortune you spend to feed, train, and house your horse, doesn’t buy his love. Or even his respect.
Which is why Valentine’s Day is also a good time to plot ways to bend him to your will. As is the responsibility of all good girlfriends owners. Because sometimes men horses will make you nuts.
Here are 7 failsafe strategies for healthy communication with your horse.
Use loud verbal cues. Screaming at your horse is a sure fire way to get him to listen to your aids. It also lets other people know that you are confident in your particular training strategy and that they might benefit from this learning opportunity.
Give him a timeout. Timeouts allow your horse to think about just how uncooperative he is. Then, when he has relaxed, you can thoroughly confuse him with mixed cues all over again.
Use humor. When things aren’t going right for you, make light of your barn mate’s horse, clothing, or facial tick. You’ll feel better about yourself immediately.
Don’t get mad, get draw reins. Training tools were made to force your horse into submission. Pull out the spurs, long whip and draw lines, then watch his love grow.
Practice makes perfect. You will never get good at fighting with your horse unless you do it every day.
Bring reinforcements. If you are the one causing the problem—and, be honest, you probably are—then compensate for your failings with a steady supply of carrots. Only then can the healing begin.
Never get off your horse angry. Every satisfactory ride should have a proper ending. If you can’t achieve your objective, you can at least be sure you’re both sorry you ever got on.
(Bonus: These strategies work for romantic relationships, too!)
Carley Sparks covers show jumping and related ridiculousness at getmyfix.org.
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