A problem well defined is a problem half solved.
Problems with horses can range from the mildly inconvenient to the outright dangerous. As Kelly Marks says “owning and riding a horse is meant to be fun. It’s an expensive way to be miserable.”
Problems with horses arise for a variety of reasons. Misunderstanding between the horse and human often lie at the heart of difficulties, and so a good basic understanding of how horses think, communicate and behave is an essential starting place. Once the human learns how to ask in a more horse-friendly manner, problems often disappear.
Other times, the problems have arisen because of a traumatic experience: the difficult loader who had a bad travelling experience; the remedial starter who was frightened because the rider fell off; or the “aggressive” horse who has been beaten up. Many a horse isn’t forward from the legs because they have been excessively kicked and pulled in the past, or continually asked to give more.
Frequently, the horse is being difficult simply because they have never been taught to be otherwise: the horse who barges and pulls when being lead because they haven’t received correct early training in how to follow a human politely and safely. The horse with a “hard” mouth has usually never been shown properly how to respond to the bit, and their rider needs to change what they are doing too. The horse who is difficult with a trimmer or farrier often behaves this way because they’ve never been given enough appropriate training, and the owner, trimmer or farrier hasn’t been shown how to handle them well either.
But whatever the reasons for the problem arising, our approach to the solution incorporates horse psychology, clear communication, and systematic breaking down of the problem into manageable chunks that the horse and owner can deal with.
Problems can be solved through callouts, courses, tailored tuition or possibly a combination of different approaches. Our aim isn’t just to overcome the problem, we seek to enable the owner to continue the work, and apply the skills to other situations or horses. So if the owner who initially had a bad loader found their horse was also not good at crossing ditches, they would find themselves equipped with a set of techniques and thought processes to address this new issue.
Difficulties we have successfully solved have included bucking, rearing, napping, spookiness, bad loading and travelling, barging, biting, refusing to stand for mounting, enter and exit the stable, be caught, led, bridled, clipped, have feet handled, trimmed and shod, and fear of bicycles, men, plastic and traffic.