I spent the morning organizing the photos on my laptop, and found this beauty from a couple years back. It’s the same horse that is on the cover of my new book.
Subject: Horse Help. Horse was great and now not so great.
My name is Nichole and I live in Edwards, CO. I have a 5 year old quarter horse. I got him about 2 years ago and he is my first horse. I have a passion for horses and my main goal is to have a relationship and a bond with my horse. The type of relationship where he enjoys what he is doing and wants to do things with me. Over the past year, he has been to two trainers and has developed some habits that I do not like very much. He has started refusing to do things that he knows how to do. When I first got him, he was extremely mellow and did not spook. He was fine with riding out on his own and not herd sour. He never bucked in his life. Now, he is very spooky, refuses to go forward at times, does not want to go out on his own, has started to do a slight buck, and has done a few small rears. I am taking him away from “conventional” training, because I believe that he is not suited for high pressure force. Again, I want him to WANT to do things, not to be forced into them. I would like to learn for myself how to develop this bond and level of trust and I would love more than anything to have the relationship with him that I used to have. I fear that I have confused him with different people telling him different things (including myself). When I am on the ground, I have an amazing relationship with him. He generally wants to be around me and wants to do things with me. When I get on his back, everything changes. Don’t get me wrong, there are days that he is amazing when I am riding him, but more often than not, he has a tendency to freak out. I know this is mostly my fault and not his, because I am fairly inexperienced, and this is why I want to learn what I can do to improve our relationship.
I feel it is my destiny to learn how to communicate with horses and live my life with them. I just do not have the right people guiding me at the moment. This is where you would come in. I am very interested in learning your philosophy and learning about how to enhance my relationship with my horse and other horses. I would love to learn from you!
Thank you so much! Nichole
As your horse was doing so good when you first got him, I wonder why you chose to send him to other trainers. Anyway, your wonderful horse seems to have been soured by too many so called ‘natural horsemanship’ trainers, or just so called horse trainers. What you describe is equine behavior that has been prompted by the horse being pushed too hard and fast by the trainers you employed. The reason he is still quite good on the ground with you is because they didn’t do anything on the ground with him (thank God). It was all about them riding the horse and getting the animal to submit to their will. This is a common story even in this age of hopefully more enlightened horsemanship. He has been made to feel insecure about the rider and doesn’t trust the person on his back. Please understand this is all due to the trainers you sent the horse to. If you had gone along to view the training you probably would have known in your gut it was inappropriate. This is a common error but a serious one. A responsible horse owner, who cares for their horse and wishes to ride that horse themselves, should never, ever give the horse to a trainer and not get involved and at least watch the training. This is a huge and costly mistake that can take a long time to correct. But it can be corrected.
Good news is that your horse is young and still green. You could re-start the horse under saddle. This means going way back to the beginnings of introducing the saddle, bridle, etc. and begin again slowly and appropriately. This would be a very good idea for you as you would hone your training skills. As the horse was already started once, it would not be nearly as risky for you. If you go slowly and take it one-step-at-a-time with lots of reward for the horse’s efforts, things should go well. Before you begin to really school the horse under saddle, determine what exactly you want to do with this horse. pleasure riding, any competition, whatever and make that decision. Have a vision for you and your horse and I can help you move towards it. Once you are ready to school him under saddle, I can give you step by step methods to try. It can take a year or two to really develop a good riding horse. But I have put 30 days on horses behaving as you describe and achieved wonderful things. The key is understanding the mind of the horse, fulfilling its need to trust it is safe and developing that trust, via a one-step-at-a-time and reward, training program. Being an experienced, centered/balanced rider who understands how to use their seat, legs and light hands help quite a bit. Tell me if you feel you are not that skilled as a rider. Be straight forward with me. Perhaps you feel your lack of equestrian skills motivated you to send the horse to an outside trainer. But you do not have to be an expert to begin this project. Also, getting help along the way is a good thing. But you need to closely watch exactly what anyone does with your horse. This is your responsibility. You will learn things that you want to do and things you do not want to do. Both are valuable. Please keep this in mind no matter what; the single most important things to a horse is its feelings of safety. Your horse does not feel safe with a rider anymore. Its that simple. I can offer you steps to take to re-establish some of this trust. The trainers you sent this horse too we coming from dominance and ego and not from compassion, wisdom, skill or trust. Those things are at the core of my teaching.
Sincerely, Franklin Levinson
Cute little mustang foal at the Virginia Range, Nevada. Featured in the weekly planner for next year.
I’ve got the first copies of my new book in my hand last night! YAAY!
To celebrate my new book, I decided to give all my customers on my online store FREE shipping until Christmas. You can use the free shipping to order anything from the art gallery, a beautiful coffee table book, or prints. Now is the perfect time to get those Christmas gifts! Order now, and have them in good time before Christmas! The offer is valid worldwide.
FREE SHIPPING WORLDWIDE – ALL PRODUCTS!
WILD AND DOMESTICATED – Horses in Black And White
“If you think you want to change the horse, what you really need to change is your approach to the horse.”
I love that quote! I kept repeating it to myself while working with this shy Icelandic Horse (in the photo.) This horse taught me a lot.