The biggest treat for a horse is a moment of peace. A good leader rebukes the herd member causing trouble until he demonstrates the right behaviour. By doing it this way no energy is wasted. But the timing is crucial. The confirmation “what you just did, was exactly what I wanted” has to be done within 3 seconds for the horse to register it as “good, desired and worth repeating”. Horses affirm by giving others peace and quiet to eat. Humans can achieve the desired behaviour by giving an instant break, soothing strokes, a calm voice and steady breathing. If the horse understood you, it will lower its head and start chewing. “Alright, I understood, thanks for the rest.” Like this every lesson can be taught easily in small steps.

What you can learn from this

  • If we reward every step in the right direction, no matter how small it was, with a moment of rest and relaxation, we can build trust and partnership.
  • The more time we give our horse, the faster we achieve our goal. The more patience we have, the more they trust us.
  • Be a good teacher. For your horse and other humans: Nobody learns anything if they get shouted at. “Did you finally understand?” or using threats “If you don’t do it immediately, consequences will follow.” The only thing the other person learns from this is to distrust the ‘shouter’ in future and avoid him. On top of that there’s the fear of not being good enough and getting shouted at again. Thereby the ability to learn is blocked.