Sensible Horsemanship

Lessons - Workshops - Training ... Believe in Your Horse

Developing your "I Can" Attitude with your Horse 1/7/2010 By Cindy McDevitt

Over the years teaching people how to build their relationships with their animals there has always been one big block that has stood in the way of individuals creating that clear communication with their animals.  After all the books that have been written on techniques the one thing that always seems to hold the persons success from happening is their positive belief in themselves.  You can recite all the teachings from all the trainers/teachers out there but if you don’t go out there with an “I can” attitude, your horse will become confused, frustrated and at times angry.  That’s not to say that they won’t have those feelings even when you are doing everything right, but you will be able to recognize these feelings and be able to adjust accordingly for the individual animal to help him understand. 


When working through a lesson I always inevitably hear the words, “You can do it, but I can’t.”  I always try to explain that I am no better than they are I just understand what I want so it will come across  faster to the horse because of the release as soon as he “Starts”, to do what I am asking.  You have to be willing to make mistakes.  I make mistakes every day.  So what!!  How else am I going to build my own knowledge and skills if I’m not even willing to try? 


One day I was teaching a teen and  had just finished showing him the lesson he was to work on.  He ended up sitting there not doing a thing.  I asked him why he wasn’t getting started and I was floored when he told me that he couldn’t do it.  When I asked the reason he said, “I’ve never done it before.”  Even though I had just explained it and demonstrated it he was scared to fail or to look stupid in front of his sister.  I let him know this wasn’t a life or death situation and how was he going to learn the skill if he didn’t even try the first time?  After letting him know his sister would probably be looking just as silly when she tried it he finally attempted the lesson. 


So what is the big deal about failing?  We have to stop worrying about failing so much and begin looking at where we want to be with our horses.  Not only should we work on becoming better thinking horsemen and women but we should take the word, “can’t” out of our vocabulary.  When there is something that we want to teach our horses why not decide to make it easier for our horse by breaking our goal down into the smallest steps as possible so the horse can be rewarded numerous times even before he reaches the final goal.  By doing this not only will your horse end up being less frustrated but so will you.  When you end up getting stuck just back up in your lesson to a spot that you both understand and build from there.  Remember your horse doesn’t speak your language so you have to figure out how to communicate in a way he understands.  Give it a try who knows you may win!!