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It's Not You, It's Me

“Stupid horse”, “this is a bad horse”, “your horse is a jerk”, “that horse is dangerous”, “you’re doing fine, the horse is just misbehaving”. Have you ever heard similar statements? Are you guilty of saying things like this?

Humans have had an issue with personal responsibility. It’s always someone else’s fault. This translates into interactions with horses as well.

I have far more patience for horses than I have for humans. The reason I am able to have patience for horses is because I live by the words: “It’s never the horse’s fault”.

That’s not to say that I have never said anything to a horse or about a horse regarding “misbehavior”. I absolutely have. The words “stinker”, “butthead”, and “what the heck is your problem today?” are things I say rather often. I also know that in the past, I’ve said things to or about a horse that I shouldn’t.

Horses, just like people, can have off days or be in a mood. However, the horse is allowed to have that, it’s your job to work around it. No matter what mood the horse is in, you have no right to lose your temper with the horse.

Blaming the horse will get you nowhere. In fact, it could very well create resentment because you are placing the blame on the horse rather than where it belongs, which is on you.

There are a lot of horse blamers, and a lot of times these are people who buy or take on a horse that they are not equipped to handle. Then every bad thing is the horse’s fault. Horse blamers are also a large part of the reason why horses get labeled as “dangerous” or “aggressive” or “unsafe”. This is devastating. These horses were never given the chance to be “good” horses. They are set up to fail by people, yet the horse is blamed, and in many cases ends up in a horrible situation. A horse can only do what it knows or what it has been taught.

I do not believe in “bad” horses. Horses are neither good nor bad, they are simply horses. It is up to their humans to teach them the required lessons and lay out behavioral expectations. Are some more difficult than others? Of course. That is why it’s important for people to realize their limitations and not take on a horse that is above their level of experience.

I once heard a phrase from a guy on YouTube that I think of every time someone blames a horse, or calls a horse bad: “There are no bad horses. Only good horses who have been taught bad lessons.”

What people need to understand is that you can teach a horse “bad” behavior just as easily, or even more easily, than you can teach “good” behavior. Not only that, but it takes much more effort to fix a bad habit or behavior than it does to train correctly in the first place. Every interaction is a teaching opportunity. If you teach a horse, or allow a horse to exhibit undesirable behavior (which people do all of the time), do not dare to blame the horse when it continues to do it, or it escalates.

The next time you feel yourself getting upset with a horse, try the following steps:

  1. Stop what you are doing.

  2. Take a deep breath.

  3. Say to yourself, “What am I doing wrong, and what can I do to set this horse up to get the right answer?”

In the end, always remember: No good horseman will blame the horse.

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