TRAINING A HORSE’S MIND – NOT their MOUTH by Shane D. Olver – Master Horseman

Overtime, we as horse lovers have evolved to a mental place, a spiritual plane where we can see more clearly, we can see what is stopping or hindering us from interacting with our herbivore equine species on a more equal basis.

For horses and humans to find common ground, humans must firstly understand and accept that both species have strong powerful instincts to overcome. These have taken thousands of years to develop, they are the same instincts that have helped both species to survive thus far.

Horses instinct is to Flee and runaway and be safe.

Humans instinct is to dominate, to grip and grab and to fight.

Ironically, it is the opposite to these instincts that will bring the two species together on a more equal basis or at least a more symbolic relationship.

Strangely, it may be that this change of behaviour and instincts is necessary especially if we are to survive as two species at all in the future.

The horse must learn not to flee as it’s first instinct.

Humans must learn not to grip and grab, not to dominate and fight as their first instinct, if they want to be a good horse person, if they want to have a so called special relationship with their horses they must learn to change.

A horse must learn how to think, assess the situation and make a decision before taking flight. They must then become braver, more confident and be taught how to make appropriate decisions under pressure by overcoming their fear and their emotions.

Humans must learn not to grip and grab for it’s an action that is a reaction to fear. Fear kills our ability to think, which kills our ability to create change, our ability to teach and educate our horse and most importantly, to remain SAFE.

Humans have to build a new first instinct “To Let Go”, become more relaxed and therefore have a far greater chance to create change and to educate their horse correctly which will then in turn create a safer riding experience and make it much safer when things go wrong.

To change such strong imposing instincts in both the horse and the human, it is necessary to understand the thinking process and social structure of both species. Only through observation, interaction, trial and error can a knowledge base be formulated and a structured educational program be implemented.

It is necessary to have a strategy and a step by step training program to create change and to create that New First Instinct.

Only through repetition, having mental and physical exercises can we retrain our (and our horse’s) mind and bodies.

It is equally important to believe and trust that the training program works. That the training program has the flexibility to adjust and adapt and be able to evolve as new knowledge presents itself. One thing we can know for certain, an absolute truth, new knowledge will always present itself.

A lot of what we learn becomes obsolete over the time, the information or knowledge that was relevant and necessary for our growth. It is best to remain open and receptive to new knowledge for there is great joy to be had in improving ourselves. Especially as we horse people want the experience of having a relationship with our horse that is equally acceptable to our horses as well.

Training our Horse’s Mind, Not his/her Mouth

Riders and handlers must allow and teach their horse how to think:

  • To deal with and control their emotions.
  • To find alternatives. Alternatives that benefit the horse, the riders and handlers, both physically and mentally.
  • That cooperation and compromise are far more powerful tools and far more beneficial than fighting and arguing.
  • That the horses volunteer and apply themselves to the task being asked of them.
  • That the horse through their own willingness, experiences success by achieving goals and tasks presented to them
  • That the horse feels empowered by experiencing success, as a result the horse is healthier, better prepared both physically and mentally for the strenuous activities.
  • A confident healthy, happy, well educated horse is also calm, thoughtful, respectful and therefore a pleasure to be around. Less accident prone, less vet and feed bills, obviously safer and much more loved.

The human must be a coach and teacher – the horse is their student.

  • The human must have a step by step training program in place.
  • Must always be patient and understanding of how difficult it can be for their student to learn something new.
  • A teacher must help and find a way for their student to learn and move forward.
  • A teacher must create change and move forward by building successes.
  • A teacher must set their student up for success NOT failure.
  • A teacher must prove and convince their student that their way is a better one, far more beneficial to the student.
  • A teacher must not block their students progress mentally or physically.
  • A teacher must strive to improve themselves to gain new knowledge, to be aware of their own limitations, to know when to seek help or assistance.
  • Students need to believe they are being prepared for a brighter future.

A rider or handler, coach or teacher must realise that it is our horse’s mind that controls stop, go, side-passes, back up, walk, trot or canter. Our horse’s mind controls its own energy flow, speed and direction of that energy flow.

Having our horse willing to apply themselves to the task, we ask of them is the ultimate for us as horse persons.

Soft hands and seat cues are equally important. But it is our horses willingness to work with us that allows lightness and effortlessly free flowing movement. Most importantly, our odds of remaining safe are greatly improved.

Our horse must accept the training method program and believe they are getting a fair deal. My training method equally prepares and trains both the rider, handler and their horse.

    • We teach a horse’s’ mind not their mouth.
    • The rider or handler must be prepared to learn and to change as much as their horse.
    • Training is Freedom!!

To learn more about my training method and how the dance with your horse works, please see the video and link below, there you will find my Vimeo ‘videos on demand’, there you can rent or buy them, also, I offer my series on high definition DVD’s for sale on my new updated website which will be available soon, or you can buy them now on ebay…  if you wish the purchase the DVD’s earlier, then I have a special offer, just reply to this post and I’ll send you the offer. I’ll let you know when my new site is available.

As always, I wish you all safe and happy riding, Shane

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