Today a student was lamenting that while away for a vacation, she had hired her neighbor teen to feed the horses and clean the stalls. She uses grindings (sort of like heavy shavings) and had just put in a new load so the stalls were fluffy. When she returned, everything was all cleaned out and had been carted off by the trash truck.
In minor misery, she shrugged her shoulders and said, “Kids, they just don’t know.”
To which I replied, “Did you tell her how you would like it done?”
She answered, “Well, I’m sure she thought she was doing the right thing.” And I said, “Yes, and she still does. If you never said otherwise, how in the heck could she have a different view? This is why your horse doesn’t do what you ask in many instances. She simply doesn’t know what you want because you never were clear.”
For reasons I can’t understand, but I know it’s rampant, people confuse clarity and precision with meanness. But, you can see in the example above that it would not be the case and it isn’t with the horses, either.
If you never say exactly what you want, you are seriously dreaming that a horse is going to not only read your mind, but also figure out how to give it to you.
When you ask a horse to do something, anything – have in your mind WHAT that looks like. EXACTLY. Then, ask the horse, see what you get and if it isn’t EXACTLY like you see it in your mind, figure out what signals you can use to be more clear, or know that the horse just needs some time while you be clear to figure it out. But, if it isn’t EXACTLY how you envisioned it, you don’t settle. If you asked the horse to stand in this spot while you saddle and he moves, you ask him to move back to the EXACT spot – then continue. If he moves again, you put him back again. A horse standing still in a different spot did not learn EXACTLY where the spot to stand is. If you don’t put him back, all he learned is that he can move and stop, move and stop. That is NOT what standing still is. They are two different things. They aren’t even spelled the same. THEY’RE NOT THE SAME THING!
If you horse trots fast, ask him to slow the f down!
So many people tell me their horse trots fast. I was looking at a horse for sale with a student who had set up the preview. The person showing the horse said, “This horse trots and canters really fast. It’s just how she is.”
NO, it’s not how she is. It’s how she trots and canters fast. If you don’t ask and don’t have the skills then she can do as she pleases and for her it was running away while going around the arena. Get very comfortable with using the line, “NOT LIKE THAT” so your horse can get comfortable learning EXACTLY what you would like.