Become an Equine Sleuth!
Horses can’t talk and have limited options when it comes to communicating with us so training horses, in particular problem solving, requires you to be a bit of a sleuth 🕵️♀️
There are really only a couple of ways a horse can communicate with you:-
He can be physically sick i.e. he’s lame or injured 🤕
He can vote with his feet (won’t come to the gate, won’t stand still to be bridled/saddled/mounted)
He can display a ‘problem behaviour’ (bucking/rearing/bolting/napping/spooking etc) 🐎
I call this last one when your horse has to shout! 😲
So if one of these comes up - how do you know what’s wrong 🤷♀️
I usually start with the physical side as I believe it’s unfair to train a horse to do something he physically can’t do or is having difficulty with.
Strength, suppleness and fitness training can, in some cases, help with physical difficulties but I believe this should only be undertaken with support of a veterinary team and after a clear diagnosis 👩⚕️
So if a horse is presenting behaviour that appears to be out of character or has escalated for no apparent reason then I will often refer the horse to the vet first to make sure there is nothing wrong - even if that horse appears sound and healthy.
Voting with his feet 🦶
This can be the first sign of trouble and may get overlooked if you don’t know the horse well. It’s one of the reasons I put a lot of effort into making sure my horses have lots of good habits so I can instantly tell if something’s wrong.
For example, if one of my horses wouldn’t stand at the mounting block that would be a red flag for me and I would be questioning what’s wrong. I teach my horses to line up to and stand at the mounting block so if they don’t do that it’s straight away out of character for them.