Sometimes, it is easy to do, and we all do or have done it. You get so frustrated that the horse is just not getting what you are asking, so you blame the horse for not being talented enough, not paying attention, not understanding etc. In reality, it’s the rider, not the horse, in most cases. Taking responsibility as a rider and learning to understand ourselves as a person and a rider and the inner workings of the horse we choose to work with is essential.
In Harmony Horsemanship, our primary goal is first to understand ourselves, our horse and the language that connects us. Learning about the three components is essential because they equally play a role in that relationship. Our energy, our body position, all of those things play a critical role in understanding ourselves and what the horse is saying to us through their body language, eyes, and ears.
Being transparent with your riding cues is significant in making your horse understand them correctly. But just understanding how to use your reins, legs and body positions is only one piece of the puzzle. And if your horse is communicating that they’re in pain or frustrated, and you continue to ride them through it, you may cause that horse to act out.
But more importantly, we want to avoid blaming the horse for not understanding or not wanting to do something when the rider is unintentionally blocking or inhibiting that action. One of the most incredible things we can do for a horse to help them is to become a more balanced rider. Balanced riding is learning how your body moves and interacts with the horse. Other components are your posture and balance. That way, we can be more supportive of the horse and allow them to do the job we’re asking them to do.
Some horses are more sensitive than others. One horse might ride better than another. We can’t expect a horse to ride the same from one rider to the next. Some may, but we shouldn’t put that expectation on our horses. And you might be blaming the horse when it’s the rider causing him to feel guarded or not using his whole body properly. When it comes to selling horses, the buyer’s first reaction may be to blame it on a sore back, ulcers, or other soundness issues or the horse’s training was misrepresented, which in reality it could very well be the rider causing these issues.
It is imperative to rule out soundlessness or health issues, but we must also recognize our role and effect on the horse. So, remember, there’s a huge component: the rider/handler and how the horse moves can all be caused by the rider or the person working with them. If your hands are too low, you can restrict the front end. You can limit the hind end if your legs are too far back. If you’re thinking fearful thoughts, you can cause your horse to become agitated and jumpy. If you’re closing your pelvis and your knees on your horse, you could restrict them from going forward. So many little pieces going on could affect the horse, which is why it’s always a great thing when you have a balanced coach or trainer who can help rule out any issues with the rider.
As horsemen and horsewomen, we have to do right by the horse, which means looking into any possible reason the horse may be reacting a certain way. Is it us? Is it the saddle? Is it soundness? This is our job because we chose the horse; they didn’t choose us. Remember, you can always check out more great free resources and other information at