True horsemanship does not have anything to do with having expensive horses or winning ribbons at shows. It has everything to do with caring for God’s most exquisite creatures in the best way you can. Many words come to mind when one speaks of horsemanship. Here are a few to help you understand what true horse man ship might mean.
- Trust is the foundation of a good partnership between horse and human. The essence of true horsemanship begins with building trust in your equine partner.
- Communication through feel is when the horse senses what he should do by reading you. “Feel” meaning the feeling the horse has in ins entire body and mind when it is relating to humans, whether the human is touching him physically or communicating indirectly. Feel is the reciprocal. You must learn to get the feel of a horse, and the horse must learn to get the feel of you.
- Indirect feel is the type of feel a horse responds to by either reacting to or ignoring a person’s presence when there is no physical contact between them.
- Direct feel is the type of feel a horse responds to when a person has physical contact with the horse through a halter, rope, or bit. How the horse responds to feel depends entirely on the person because feel is all a horse has to go on when communicating with humans.
- Be aware of the horse’s basic natural instinct of self preservation. The ability to read a horse’s body language and understand what he is trying to communicate to you is very important.
- Gain knowledge of horse behavior to further your understanding of the feel.
- Respect the animal instinct and gain respect from your equine friend.
- Have confidence in yourself to be a leader and protector of your horse. You must earn the confidence of your horse so you may be able to handle him in a safe manner.
- Control your own temper and emotions when you get frustrated with your horse. Realize that he may not understand sometimes, or may not be ready to progress.
- Continue to learn all you can even if it is learning what not to do.
“Always take the time it takes to teach a horse.”
(Quote by Bill Dorrance)
What to Expect From Horses
When working with horses, as it is stated above, we must have a good understanding of horse behavior. Being a prey herd animal makes them flighty and unpredictable. However, if you are familiar with the personalities of the horses you are working with, you can be better prepared to anticipate a situation.
We must expect that horses are naturally claustrophobic, fearful, herd sour, protective, and unpredictable to an extent. Be aware that certain breeds of horses tend to be “hot tempered” or more nervous than others. These breeds include Thoroughbreds, Arabs, Morgans, Hackeys, Saddlesbreds, and some bloodlines of Quarter Horses. Basically we must expect the unexpected and be prepared to deal with these situations with safety in mind. We need to make sure that the youth are always out of harm’s way.
Be very particular that the children follow the safety rules. If you notice an unsafe situation or a horse that is becoming agitated at an event quickly and quietly remove the horse to a location where people cannot get hurt. If you don’t feel confident in handling a situation. Notify someone who can or the owner of the horse. We do expecty haven of Hope horses to be well behaved. They are experienced animals that are capable of handling stress, crowds and noise like a pro. Unfortunately this does not mean the unexpected won’t happen.
Some of the more common problems that occur at events usually involve too many horses in one area. They begin to feel crowded so they may pull back from their lead ropes. The worst case scenario is a horse breaks a rope and flips over backwards. Another problem involves horses kicking at each other. In this situation a person might accidentally be in the middle of it, or I may spook the targeted horse and the handler loses control. The best course of action is to remain calm and get the situation under control. Remember 1Corinthians 14:40 “Let all things be done decently and in order.”