Are you fast-thinking enough for breeds like a thoroughbred or an Arabian? These breeds tend to get a bad reputation for being flighty, hot-headed, more anxious, quick-footed, and more challenging to train. Some trainers/horse people resort to a more substantial bit or the need to use more pressure to keep them under control. But in most cases these methods are not necessary. So, the question is, are you fast enough to own one, or are you too slow? In the large scheme of things, it comes down to being more of a human issue than it does a horse issue. These kinds of hot-blooded horses tend to think quickly and react fast.
We want to determine what happens if you pair a human who learns slowly or moves slowly with a horse that is quick and fast-thinking. Well, you get a significant mismatch of learning styles and energy. When this occurs, you have horses that get frustrated, nervous, and spooky because they’re just not paying attention to what their human is trying to tell them. A good analogy is thinking of children with ADHD. Kids that have ADHD, have trouble focusing. It’s not that they’re bad kids or misbehaving or not listening. They need more repetition, more help focusing, and a variety of things to help them concentrate. It’s a similar concept with fast-thinking horses who have trouble concentrating on their handler’s cues. In their minds, they are focused on the things around them, taking in the environment and any changes or threats.
When working with horses like this, we have to teach them to trust that we won’t let anything harm them, how to focus, and how to have emotional control to help them build a calm connection with us. For example, when learning exercises with your horse, you take your time to perfect the movement in your head while your horse is with you, or you repeatedly try it with him to perfect it that way. That time in between introduces doubt to the horse. It allows them time for their mind to wander, and it can cause them to get agitated, frustrated or nervous and even lose confidence in you.
The challenge is to think if my learning style and energy are fast enough to work with these types of hot-blooded horses. Or, at the least, do I have the tools to set the training session up for success. You can do this by planning, having a whiteboard with already learnt exercises, having out new Harmony Horsemanship Book that will give you explanations and full diagrams on different exercises on hand. Even our new Harmony Horsemanship App coming out soon will help you on the fly.
Now, as you start to build a relationship with your horse, you start to train them to focus on you. You can then make those pauses between your exercises longer to set up for the next exercise, breathe, and appreciate. You might even get to the point where you can stand still and have them relax and hang out with you. We must help horses be more emotionally controlled, find a calm connection, be the best version of themselves, and help them do what they’re naturally going to excel at.
Sometimes, we must put aside the desire to pressure horses into a discipline they may not have the natural ability or mindset to do. It’s up to us to make sure we pick a horse suited to a discipline we want to pursue. It’s not so much that the horse can’t learn a specific discipline, but it usually means that we have to balance it with what the horse wants to do. It’s the same thing you can imagine in your own life. Suppose you’re being asked to do something that you don’t particularly enjoy doing. You can usually put up with it or do it as long as it’s not drilled into you, and you have to do it all the time.
There are many other pieces, such as their natural athleticism, their confidence with different obstacles, whether they like contact, etc. It’s a matter of assessing what they are naturally suited for. And thinking about the fast-thinking horse versus the slow-thinking horse is just one element, but one we should take into serious considerate when choose a horse.
So, are you fast thinking, or are you slow thinking?