This time of year, with the wind blowing and constant rain, often reminds me of how important it is that our horses have a good, solid foundation of training.
The most important thing in WHC is to create a solid foundation that needs to work permanently as a stance for you and your horse. It is from here that all training arises, a place which you can always return to when something gets difficult. A safe place. It is important that your horse has trust in you, and trust is necessary to gain leadership. A horse will only choose a leader, if it has absolute confidence and trust.
The gaining of leadership is important because horses live in hierarchies, where the lead horse is controlling and protecting the herd. When we create leadership, we answer our horse’s many questions about everything that’s going on. We bring them peace of mind, knowing that it’s safe to follow us, allowing them to follow the lead horse. Because horses are horses and can only act like horses, as soon as they sense we are not predators, they will try to find out where they are in the hierarchy in relation to us. If we can manage to establish trust and leadership, we have the means and method of creating a constantly positive development.
We can also reduce the possibility of conflict when we are handling and riding our horse in this way.
It is a natural for horses to try to move up in the hierarchy. If one horse shows weakness, another one takes over. So in one way or another, the horses will always try to take control. They will test where they are in the hierarchy by showing either a dominating or a timid behaviour. The faster we convince them that we are their leader, the faster we give them peace of mind. To establish or retain leadership, we must be clear, consistent and ensure there are consequences, just like the leader horse would act. That doesn’t mean being physically tough, because if we are, the horse will lose its trust. No, we must be the loving, praising-giving, consistent, safe leader.
This way, we attain better safety and much more ease in handling and riding our horse, which is what we all really want.