Friday, March 21, 2008

21st March, 2008 Won't, don't or can't

To me, horses seem happier and more relaxed where there are some ground rules that they have to follow and which are applied consistently. I think it helps if the handler can work out whether they are a don't, won't or can't when it comes to controlling the horse on the ground. Some people don't because there is no need - the horse is generally polite and they can live with the odd nudge or awkward behaviour. Others don't because they don't realise that they are being moved around by the horse. Of the wont's, it's quite often because of the emotional involvement with the horse and not wanting to offend it; everyone loves to be loved by their horse. Of the can'ts, it is sometimes because they don't have a technique to manage the horse or a consistent approach or it may be because the horse has gone beyond their abilities. Yesterday I went out to a Thoroughbred that quickly outstripped my arsenal of tools - despite going through the groundwork exercises and then pressure and release and body language, this horse kept coming at me on his hind legs, screaming his head off at the mares down the barb-wire enclosed track. I'm afraid I drew the line and declined to work with him any further.