Part One: My Horse Betrayed Me.

 

I hear lots of horror stories in my line of work. “My horse just started bucking, for no good reason.” “He was flying like a kite on the end of my lead rope.” “One minute he was walking next to me and the next, I had smashed toes, my head knocked sideways, and he was running away.”

In that instant, your horse goes from being your soulmate to guilty of conspiracy to commit murder. Slightly less paranoid riders would call his behavior a psychotic break. He became unpredictable. Uncontrollable. Is the term betrayal overly dramatic? He broke your trust.

Lucky for you there are some rail-birds ready to dispense training advice. Put a chain over his nose. Run him in the round pen until he gives in. Get a whip and show him who’s boss.

Whoa! Slow down. Can we rewind? Tell the lynch mob that you’ve got this. Because if the only response is hindsight punishment, riders are doomed. Here’s a radical thought: How about listening to him in the first place?

Disclaimer: There is the very rare occasion when a pain response forces a horse to explode without warning. Think bee sting. If there is an extreme response, look first at his physical condition.

In most cases, the horse runs away just one step at a time. He gives warnings repeatedly, as his anxiety grows. He holds it together as long as he can. If you’re listening, you have time. Learning to respond to calming signals from your horse can save both of you.

When I ask riders for the long version of what happened, the story unfolds differently. Maybe he was hard to catch that day, or impatient and a bit barn sour at the gate, or maybe especially girthy during saddling. She got complacent. Small details were ignored for expediency. Some of us are so busy in our own heads that we don’t even notice the small details. The rest of us were taught to plow on ahead no matter what because we can’t let the horse “win.”

Then his discomfort got confused with disobedience. Horses just have one way of communicating and it’s with their body. If a generally well-behaved horse nips or tosses his head, don’t think you can “correct” his anxiety with escalation. When we get resistance from a horse, pause and breathe. Then resolve the anxiety while it is small and manageable. Let your horse see you as worthy of his trust.

The biggest reason to listen to your horse is because you have the awareness equivalency of a blind, deaf, hairless mouse. Horses are prey animals forever; their senses are so much more acute than a human’s that we literally have no idea what’s going on, even if we’re paying attention. Let that sink in.

On top of that, science says that a horse’s response time is seven times quicker than ours; the fastest response time of any common domestic animal. When things come apart, it happens fast. It makes sense because flight – the instinct to sprint away from perceived danger – is the species’ primary defensive behavior.

I italicized instinct for a reason; it’s the important part. Is it fair to ask for obedience above instinct? The short answer is yes, our safety depends on it, but it’s complicated.

Say we’re walking to the arena. From the horse’s side, they pull their head away and graze because it’s their instinct to always eat. Horses are designed for full-time grazing. So we react by jerking the lead-rope. Fighting instinct is a bit like fighting gravity but humans have a plan and a clock ticking, so we get adversarial.

A rider with a greater understanding of her horse’s instincts and needs might feed a flake of hay while tacking up and then actively lead her horse to the arena by keeping a good forward rhythm in her feet. He has food in his stomach and she gets to ride within her time constraints. Best of all, there is no fight before the ride even starts. You can tell it’s good leadership because everyone “wins.”

Most of all, no one betrays anyone. The best reason for a rider to study and understand horse behavior is that learning their logic can keep us from a runaway of our own – an emotional runaway.

Granted, it’s a little easier to be logical in a discussion over grazing rights than it is in the middle of a dangerous bucking incident, but we have to start small.

And it doesn’t hurt to acknowledge that, when you look at it this way, horses and humans aren’t that temperamentally well-suited to each other. So it goes; I don’t see either species giving up on each other.

All of this is to say that when your horse appears to overreact to his surroundings, he isn’t wrong. And adding our over-reaction on top won’t make things better.

At the same time, it’s our nature to think we know everything and that our plan is the only thing that matters. It’s a good reminder, even if your horses live on your property with you, that you are only a small part of their experience. They have fully dimensional lives, with emotional ups and downs, that have nothing do to with you at all.

If you want an unthinking partner with limited intelligence, dirt bikes are a good option.  Otherwise, spend more time understanding and less time wishing horses were different. It takes more than a lifetime to understand horses. You don’t have any time to lose.

Yes, you could say that I’m making excuses for horses and, not as sympathetic as I should be toward humans who have been hurt and frightened. I just want to suggest that we be a bit more careful about the words we use to describe horse behaviors. We must learn to accept and support each other’s instincts for self-preservation because that’s how both species will flourish.

The words we choose matter, not because they give horses a bad name, but because they damage how we think of horses in our own hearts.

Next week I’ll talk about fear in Part Two: Now I’m afraid.

P.S. THANK YOU: This was a milestone week for my little blog. We passed one million views. It was a small thing in the course of world events but I noticed. I’m grateful, everyone, for the time you share here.

….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
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138 thoughts on “Part One: My Horse Betrayed Me.

      1. Marne

        Love your comments. As a young rider I had big conversations with my horse. We got on really well. She would “ask” can we canter and I might or might not say yes. Then I ‘grew up’. Had lessons. Big mistake – for me at least. Then I turned into a bossy rider. I am unlearning that now.

      2. Great comment. I always want people to work with trainers. It’s the coaching that really helps riders progress with their horses…UNTIL I READ A COMMENT LIKE THIS, WHERE THE TRAINER DID MORE DAMAGE THAN GOOD. Don’t give up, there is a middle path. Thanks Marne, for sharing your path.

  1. Brilliant post.

    My experience, quality of riding partnership, and sense of safety completely changed when I stopped demanding my horse listen to me, and I started listening to my horse. What amazing conversations we now have.

  2. Lisa Douglas

    “MILESTONE”…congrats on a million views!!!! I share your stories with my friends and hope they enjoy and learn from them as much as I do!!!! Thank you for sharing your knowledge…
    Lisa

  3. Lori

    Having just flown off a new-to-me horse who seems relaxed and quiet one second and bolting the next, this post has come at a great time for me. I haven’t flown off a horse for 25 years – will not be so complacent the next time I mount up – that is, if I ever stop hurting from head to foot

  4. Elizabeth Vandor

    Very well said . I am a Tellington Touch practitioner and Linda Tellington always says that it is more important to be a horse listener than a horse whisperer. A horse only shouts when we haven’t heard his whispers.

  5. billiehinton

    Things Keil Bay has told me, and I listened:

    Stepping away from the mounting block, something he never does:
    Girth was loose. I had forgotten to do the final check!

    Not wanting to be bridled:
    Pelvis badly rotated and needed chiro adjustment, which I scheduled post-haste.

    Antsy and slightly obnoxious during grooming:
    Tick in the nether regions. Took me about 15 minutes to figure this out, but I kept trying and he kept trying to “tell” me. Last thing he did was lift his hind leg like a dog peeing on a tree! Aha!

    Same for pony:

    Shaking head and suddenly “head shy”:
    Tick deep in ear. Vet call was needed.

    Sudden refusal to jump:
    Issue in back. Acupuncture resolved it completely.

    Antsy during grooming:
    He hates light brushing. Feels like a fly? Brush deep and push into it and he is an angel who loves his grooming time.

    And for Cody:
    Sudden and completely uncharacteristic explosion. Galloping and bucking and acting like a madman:
    Neighbors ran over a yellow jacket nest with mower. He got stung on the butt.

    These are just a few examples. I have learned that if Keil Bay does anything other than be his sweet, cooperative self when I want to ride, I just put the tack away and spend time with him until we figure out what’s going on. For him it usually means he needs the chiropractor. She comes every third month no matter what, but if he doesn’t want to be tacked up I look for everything I can think of and then call the chiro. She has confirmed it every time.

    I think this post of yours is one of the primary lessons we all need to learn. When a horse does something “wrong” it is not a behavior to be punished but a gift of a message we need to hear, either to help the horse, or to help ourselves. In some ways it’s the easiest thing in the world. But humans seem very very dense when it comes to this notion.

    Thank you for writing!!!

      1. billiehinton

        The entire horse-human dynamic shifts when we listen. I never have to “go catch a horse.” They come to me. They want interaction, because it is a conversation, not the “do what I say, now” thing I see so often between people and their horses. That whole idea that is so often taught, “can’t let them win the battle” is so very off base. And you know, every now and then Keil Bay runs when I get out the bridle, and it’s just because he’s enjoying his day doing what horses do, and I laugh and say, fine, we’ll skip the ride. It doesn’t mean he runs the next time. It’s like me not answering the phone when I’m reading a good book. I just want to keep reading. Sometimes he just wants to keep grazing. 🙂

    1. Maggie Frazier

      Had to laugh at the raise his hind leg like a dog peeing! My horse used to do that when he had an itch back there! Hadnt thought about that for years. Brings back memories. Thanks

      1. Tami Fredrich

        My 9-year-old Warmblood can still scratch his ear with his hind foot. If only I were still so flexible!

  6. Patty Fair

    Thank you. I am so often accused of making excuses. But my horse is a trooper. If he is distracted or seems disobedient I’ve learned it’s always about something out of the ordinary bothering him. Even my much beloved trainers says to just ignore him or “don’t let him get away with that.” But the bottom line is that it’s me and my horse. If I err on the side of generosity so be it. He deserves it.

    1. He will return that favor when you need it. I am always surprised when humans suggest that a horse is being deceitful… but so it goes. Thanks, Patty.

  7. Animals never ever betray us. It’s only human animals who have that word in our vocabulary. Love this one, Anna. Relevant to all our four-foot companions. thanks you, and congrats on a million views.

  8. Ellen Allen

    Your words today are going to help a friend of mine who is fighting a human to human battle, decades in the making.

    “The words we choose matter because they damage how we think of (others) in our own hearts.”

    Thank you Anna.

  9. Erica Saunders

    This has a lot to do with how I handle my girl. I have to manage herd bound behavior because I’m usually the only rider on my farm. She’s a herd animal, I get it. She gets anxious and acts to return to safety. I get it.

    When she gets stressed out because she’s in the barn and everyone else is outside? I stay with her but wait it out. There’s no point in getting mad and fighting. If she escalates, I try not to engage. If she throws a complete tantrum, which can happen, I still try not to engage.

    If she decides that she doesn’t want to hack around the field because everyone else is back in the field? We walk the trail until she calms and stops calling. When she starts to snort out the butterflies and breathe? Then we can get to work.

    Water on a stone, water on a stone. Practice that its no big deal until it is and never create a situation without escape.

      1. Erica Saunders

        Its SO hard not to engage though. Its taken me years and years to learn to wait it out.
        And you are so very right. the words matter. They shape how we look at our horses and how we plan our response (or don’t)

  10. joepote01

    A few months ago, I was riding my energetic young inexperienced AQHA gelding at another arena. Knowing the new arena was a new experience for him, I took my time warming him up and letting him adjust.

    At one point, he suddenly bolted for no obvious reason. I managed to remain calm and perform a one-reined stop, then continued riding. A few minutes later he bolted again, running erratically around some equipment stacked along the arena fence. Fearing one of us would get hurt, I bailed off.

    I led him around a few minutes, got him calmed down, and remounted. A few minutes later, he bucked me off.

    My friends (most of whom are much more experienced horsemen than myself) came running up. One told me I needed to “sell that horse before he kills you!” Another said, “Take that horse in the round pen and work his butt off! You need to show him who’s boss!”

    Frankly, I was in a sort of state of shock. I looked up at one dear older lady who has worked with horses all her life, and asked, “What do you think I should do?” “If it was my horse, I would call it a night, take him home, and work with him tomorrow to figure out what went wrong.”

    I followed her advice. Next morning, while grooming him, I discovered a big welt on his neck from an insect sting.

    I am so grateful for sound reasonable advice from wise experienced horsemen!

    Anna you are one of those horsemen in my life.

    Thank you!

    1. Lauren

      Amazing isn’t it? We think horses are misbehaving and so often there is a good reason behind the behavior. Glad you weren’t hurt and glad you had a wise person give you good advice

  11. Karen Graves

    Read your blog and find you to be so insightful,most times, helpful always even though you do piss me off when I feel like I should be ,Mother Theresa before I even approach my pony! Put those emotions away !! Love your humor, (dirt bike) ! You were so right about Po having ulcers….he is on a maintenance program now and we are moving forward..to think I almost sold him, for poor behaviour!! Thank you for being you…. kalee

  12. Lauren

    So grateful I found you, your blog and your book Relaxed and Forward. Your words of wisdom resonate so strongly with me and my experiences with horses! Thank you!!

  13. JUDITHBELFORD@comcast.net

    One of the best things that has happened in my ‘becoming the best horsewoman I can be’ journey was stumbling upon your book, which I sucked up like a sponge, and getting this weekly blog. You have an ability to put into words such a seemingly simple but oh so important awareness of our big, gentle 4 legged companions. I share my life with a 21 year old TW who is a retired show horse. This life we are leading is so foreign to her….trail riding, sometimes alone, and her first herd of horse eating cows….I can see how she is gaining trust in me, but I am also aware, from your insight, how brave she is being, and how hard she is trying to understand this new life she is part of. I like the idea of giving her something to munch on before we tack up and go out. I had read that physiologically that is important, but now I also understand it helps her instinctive need to be munching all the time. Thank you for reinforcing what I have felt for so long; that it is my responsibility to understand her as much as I can because she has been thrust into my world and I need to meet her more than halfway. It’s really fun on some days to just hang….take a book into the pasture to read, or just sit there doing nothing, being part of her herd and not asking anything from her. I struggle with the fact that she is often ‘low woman’ on the totem pole, but understand that harmony and non conflict are an integral part of her well being and that’s how they maintain their daily interactions with each other.

  14. Ah, happiness once again, as I hand my phone to my Hubby and say “Read this, because it’s not about who wins, it’s about listening…and when we listen, and hear what they’re telling us, we *all* win.”
    Slowly, slowly, I’m working on bringing him around. 😉
    And, I must say, I am so very excited to learn you, Anna, are doing a clinic in my neck of the woods come October!! I’ll be auditing, because my horse doesn’t travel.
    Looking forward to learning more!

  15. Katherine Bachhuber

    This was a very good blog post! At the very least, it should give us all pause when working with our horse next time.

  16. “you are only a small part of their experience. They have fully dimensional lives, with emotional ups and downs, that have nothing do to with you at all.” I wish more people understood this.

      1. SA

        Hit that nail square on the head. Humans. I wonder if horses roll their eyes when we aren’t looking?

  17. Elaine

    I look forward to each and every blog post from you. This particular one is extra special. Please allow me to thank you for your inspiration and knowledge and for so freely sharing with me. Posts like yours remind me that everything I learned about life I learned through my horse…and Anna Blake!

  18. Melinda Codling

    This is timely for me. I had a very bad weekend with Tucker. Back to consulting with the vet and a trainer. Am considering looking for another horse that is more suitable for me now at my age. Tucker is a really good horse and I don’t want to go through the hassle and expense of getting a new horse with no guarantees it would be any better. So I’m information gathering and seeing if I can work through my eroding trust as well as his. Details to follow when I know more. Love ya!!

    On Fri, Jul 21, 2017 at 6:36 AM, Relaxed & Forward: AnnaBlakeBlog wrote:

    > Anna Blake posted: ” I hear lots of horror stories in my line of work. > “My horse just started bucking, for no good reason.” “He was flying like a > kite on the end of my lead rope.” “One minute he was walking next to me and > the next, I had smashed toes, my head knocked s” >

    1. Keep breathing, my friend… I think we’ve all been right where you are, and things work out, one way or another. Keep an open mind. Thanks, Melinda, for sharing your truth.

  19. Thank you for this – Mark & I are having some difficulties with Luna (who was starved nearly to death twice before she was 3 years old) & her constant, violent kicking of her pipe fence whenever any food is happening… it’s gone on for a year (& I though she was pregnant, so I messed up her schooling & her diet accommodating the possibility), your words and insight are helpful especially in this situation. I have reacted in many ways these few months and not responded as I know I should have… rebooting, rethinking, grateful to you and grateful to Luna – she will teach us who she needs to be. Hugs.

  20. Kathleen Curran

    wow – truly love the thought behind your words … so true, if only more people would take the time to understand what their horse is saying instead of saying they are disrespectful and then being punished for it. Just signed up for your blogs – can’t wait and thank you!

  21. Congrats on your milestone – that’s pretty impressive & I’m happy for you!

    I love this piece & can’t wait for part 2 – I wish I’d been able to direct a particular person who took one of my young horses who was honestly described as sensitive & reactive but also green as green gets. This person who actually wrote a book about training pulled this young & over-whelmed horse off a transport truck (he had spent a WEEK in transit) and without any period of rest or opportunity to get over the shipping stress, was rushed past ground training, and into a first ride in under 3 weeks (rider got dumped, big surprise). This author then proceeded to label that gorgeous horse all over the internet as “dangerous” & me as having “dumped” a problem on her.
    That horse went to a proper trainer and, after one rough ride, used his very good mind to figure out what the author had confused in him with all the too soon demands & shenanigans, and was then sold for a very high sticker price in today’s market.
    The horse got a happy ending, Thank God, & I now know he & I both dodged a bullet.

  22. Tracey Sands

    I have to say how much I love this blog post (the same thing I have to say about every one you write), but also all the great comments! I think my very favourite paragraph in this wonderful discussion is this:

    “Most of all, no one betrays anyone. The best reason for a rider to study and understand horse behavior is that learning their logic can keep us from a runaway of our own – an emotional runaway.”

    Without a doubt, the most important insight in all of horsemanship is that horses don’t “misbehave” to be nasty, but because they have a good reason of their own, and it’s our job — if we want to be part of their world — to understand that point and work with it. As everyone here has noted, it’s about reading their signals so that we can both stop doing the things we’re messing up at and take active steps to fix what can be fixed. The thing is that when horses realise that we are listening, they behave completely differently towards us.

    This is a wonderful blog, and a wonderful community of wise horse people.

  23. Lynell Abbott

    One complaint I have, Anna, is trying to decide which of your blogs is my all time favorite. This one is certainly up there but then again, so was last week’s and the week before that, et cetera!
    Love all the comments, too. All of you have helped me in my journey.
    Thanks for letting me be part of this special group.

  24. I don’t interact with horses much. Though I do love and admire them: their grace, beauty, independence. And I learn so much about people from your posts. Thank you, Anna. You have been a gift in my life for almost 40 years!

  25. Congratulations. 🙂 It’s a very good thing, your little blog. I don’t think you realize (maybe you do) how well you articulate for us thick-headed humans who so desire a better relationship with our horse. You help us make that journey with clearer understanding, and especially how very important our behaviors, words, thoughts and mannerisms around these intelligent, but sometimes reactive animals are. We play a big role and need to accept more responsibility…and like you, most of the time, I’m going to agree with the horse.

    Thanks Anna

    1. SA

      Well said Lorie Lundgren. Anna opens my mind to what then seems so obvious & simple if we just s l o w d o w n.

  26. Kat

    My mare and I had an awesome deal…

    I got her as a save from animal controls pointed rifle. I had bought her a few moments before so animal control had to start over, I am forever grateful that the man knew me well and refused to pull the trigger. Princess was just going 3 yrs old at the time. She stood 15.3hh and weighed under 500lbs , a month later she had a filly that lived only 8 hours , we tried everything.

    She passed away at 32 years and 20 days old.

    Our deal was simple.. I looked into her eyes the day i rescued her and promised, I would never have to feel shame when looking into her eyes for any treatment of her, and She promised to be the best horse she could be.

    DEAL KEPT ❤

  27. You can not know the need to run from something coming to kill you, you’re a human and more likely to be the hunter than the hunted. Horses are ALWAYS the hunted, they dare not chance the predator to come close. We have no idea when we walk into the corral or stable just what little thing a horse might hear or smell or see that we would never notice. It is vitally important that we pay attention to them, as you say so well, listen and breathe. When you stop to think about the fact that a prey animal allows a predator to ride upon their back in a place most predators use to kill them, it’s absolutely amazing the amount of trust on their part. Go watch some videos of lions taking down antelope, zebra and so forth then think about your horse and how you are around him. During the day long class Rudd used to give, part of it was given to trying to teach us to respect the trust a horse gives to allow us on their back. We looked at photos then, ones he had clipped from old National Geographics and pasted into a notebook of predators taking down prey animals. I saw him get bucked off once – his mount got stung by a bee in a rather tender area. Not once did that man punish the horse, he picked himself up, waited till the horse calmed down then checked him over with great care and found the sting. Congrats on the million views!!

  28. linda karcz

    Really enjoyed this. Thank-you

    On Jul 21, 2017 7:38 AM, “Relaxed & Forward: AnnaBlakeBlog” wrote:

    > Anna Blake posted: ” I hear lots of horror stories in my line of work. > “My horse just started bucking, for no good reason.” “He was flying like a > kite on the end of my lead rope.” “One minute he was walking next to me and > the next, I had smashed toes, my head knocked s” >

  29. Love it. I’m always telling myself. Really LOOK AT THE HORSE. I’m impatient by nature. I have to force myself to breathe and watch Henry… even tacking up. Breathe. Watch his body language. Relax. Breathe. You see my point. Get inside his head rather than EXPECT him to get into mine. Consistency is CRUCIAL. I have to meet and play with him every day. Even if it’s just a grooming session and a quick walk around the land. I know this from my relationship with God. I need to spend time. and relax my whole person and fellowship with my horse. I am building a relationship. Stare. Breathe him in. Partake of who he is and know that he is doing the same exact thing on his level to the best he can. My horse is not a hobby. He is a living entity. I want more than just a ride. I want to know him on a level some people only dream of. It involves risk. I’m down with that and willing to move forward,

  30. oneblueeyeonebrown

    Ha! Mea culpa, guilty as charged. It’s only now in the current stretch of my “wax on, wax off” journey that I can see how comfy it was for it ALL to be my horse’s fault -for being an anal aperture-, whilst I remained blameless lol. Dunno if I’m going to live long enough to get this horse thing down…. 😂. Fab piece as always.
    Dee

  31. I was at my riding lesson on my own horse warming up. Suddenly, out of the blue, he cut loose with a buck worthy of an rodeo bronc. One so big and high that my husband riding behind me could see my girth. Totally out of character for him-if this guy was going to play games, his modus operandi was to spin, jump sideways, or duck out. Bucking? Never. I knew as soon as he did it that something was horribly amiss. I went back down, told my instructor that I needed to borrow a lesson horse for that night, and tacked that horse up quickly. Later I found the problem-he had a hoof wall separation that reached nearly to the coronet band and I’d missed it. It took time and careful treatment, but all was well I owned that horse for nearly 28 years That was his only buck.

  32. Pingback: From Anna Blake’s Blog-and Boy, is she good! Part One-And Then My Horse Betrayed Me – The Sports Model Jackass

    1. June Salzenberg

      “dirt bike” comment:
      I now refer to the usual stable arrangement as a garage or the cells of a prison, allowing each one out only individually. It has taken time to get the trust of my quarter gelding previously trained for cutting. Now he will remind me, “Hey, you’re not paying attention.” Hard to find good pasture boarding though.

      1. Hard to keep up with a cutter. Hard to find a “natural” place in our domesticated world. So, our mantra,” I’m only human; I’m doing the best I can.” June, thanks and welcome.

  33. ingrid krause

    Wonderful post, I had a lady wanting to buy a horse from me after she told me that she put her horse down because her grandchild got bucked off. Very unfair, probably the horse never meant to be the babysitter. Needless to say, I had NO horses for sale. I liked your reference to the dirt bike. nice read, thank you

  34. HelenF

    I’m smiling for many reasons when I read this blog, not least because it’s so spot on, thank you. I was just thinking yesterday about my epiphany incident of the blind deaf bald mouse type, and a certain 4 year old Friesian where I ate dust 🙂 i was watching someone deal yesterday with a youngster who hasn’t heard the ‘call’ yet and it reminded me of how I learned the hard way 🙂 congratulations on the million 🙂

  35. Maggie Jacobsohn

    As someone who only started riding at 50 as an impatient workalholic, I greatly appreciate your blogs – I learn something from every one of them, and I like to think my horse has benefitted too. We are fortunate to have a stable owner who thinks very much like you. Don’t stop writing and more horse poetry please.

    1. It’s never too late to learn, even us impatient ones. Glad you have the benefit of a good barn. (and thanks for the kind words about the poetry.) Welcome, Maggie.

  36. Joan Spence

    Another one-in-a-million thoughtful and inspiring posts, thank you so much for sharing yourself. I can’t express my gratitude at finding a sympathetic heart for my journey. Again, thank you.

    I realized again what an honor it is that my horses communicate with me rather than tune me out as a lost cause. Each of their personalities is fascinating and if I’m in the proper state of mind I’ll appreciate their sense of humor (yes Peaches I’m talking about you!).

    Understanding behavior within the context of a horse’s instincts is brilliantly instructive, the value of that is priceless! I am completely dumbfounded how a person who ascribes human motivations to any animal can possibly have the capacity to walk and breathe at the same time. And yet they vote which completely explains a lot of things.

    1. That phrase “tune me out as a lost cause”… I watched a video of a trainer today whose horse did just that… You are doing great, even if Peaches makes jokes at your expense. Thanks, Joan.

  37. Jane Greenwood

    I call a Horse that lets you know it’s opinion on things a “honest horse”, and always worth listening to. I also find way too many people have derogatory terms for this same horse. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for being such a voice of sanity and knowledge in an equine world that is all too ready to blame the horse for it’s effort to communicate!

  38. Really enjoyed this article. I had a mare that tossed me about 10 feet through the air and when I landed, I broke two vertebrae in my back. The mare was not at fault-it was all mine. I was putting a fly mask on her and got too close to the electric fence wire-she got shocked and flew right into me. I suppose a calmer horse wouldn’t have charged into my direction but I never blamed the horse-it was my being in a hurry that caused me to be unable to ride for about 6 months.

    1. Hope you are moving well again, and well, you’re right. It’s all you, but no one’s perfect. Your mare, maybe, but not you or me. Great comment, Susan. Thanks.

  39. Just a few words on a horse’s sensitivity, which we humans so often fail to appreciate. My mare can tell if someone is about to come through the barn door at least 15 seconds before they get there. Even with the radio blaring at the end of the aisle and an industrial fan roaring in the doorway. Happened again yesterday…and the human entering was not leading a horse (shod or otherwise) but coming in on the quiet rubber “cat feet” of her muck boots. As soon as the mare whips her head to laser-focus on the doorway I know someone or something will be coming through it shortly. As for her eyesight, she recently zoned in on a deer bounding across the pasture about a quarter mile away. The silly human holding her lead rope thought it was a dog, until someone else pointed out that it wasn’t…

  40. Terri

    I love your posts. I have become so aware of my energy and intention, that it astonishes me at times. I have a extremely sensitive mare she seems to know what I’m thinking. I love it, we are a herd of two. It took decades but, I finally get it …being present in the moment and listening to her..

  41. bb

    I’ve been “people watching” at equine events lately, and sometimes it’s really disheartening to see the differences in how people view and treat their horses. Machinery more often than a partner, and I’m certain that horses are the ones who feel betrayed more often than humans do. thank you for this blog and I’m hopeful that it will reach people who will consider it.

  42. Caroline Fardell

    I love all of this. But especially – ‘we literally have no idea what’s going on even if we are paying attention!’

  43. Toby

    Mondays are the best— your Blog arrives!! Thank you for reminding us how lucky we are to have horses in our life and take the time to Listen to them. Now if only the uninitiated horse owners would try Listening.

    1. Thank you! It’s funny, I work with uninitiated horse owners who do listen, but without understanding. It takes a long time to understand horses. Some of us just don’t want to try and those are the ones I struggle with. Thanks, Toby.

  44. Pingback: Part Two: Now I’m Afraid – Relaxed & Forward: AnnaBlakeBlog

  45. Laurie

    I get it, I’m slow to catch on sometimes, but I do get it. Thank you Anna, for furthering our understanding and helping us to respond appropriately more quickly. This past 4th of July my neighbors started setting off fireworks just as I was doing my evening chores. This is not new, they have done this for the 15 years that I’ve been here. My horses have learned to cope. This year however, the horses came unglued. My knee jerk response was “Really boys? You’ve seen this all before.”, but they were really (dangerously) spun up. First, I got out of their way, then I tried to think what might help besides telling my neighbors they can’t do what they want on their own property. I saw the whites of the horses eyes, which was a clear fear and flight manifestation, so I thought they need to run away. I climbed through the fence into the pasture and around to the gate to stay out of their way, the opened the gate. They came barreling through (even the old guy who’s back end doesn’t work). They made a few loops, stopped, dropped there heads and began grazing. Problem solved. I realized later that the likely cause of the new behavior was a new fence that kept the horses from seeing the source of the commotion. They are the sevants of subtlety.

  46. Pingback: Part Three: Riding Above Fear – Relaxed & Forward: AnnaBlakeBlog

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