“If You Want to Know What is Wrong With Your Horse, Go Look in the Mirror”
- Murrel Lacey
In every moment, everything in nature is mirroring and matching energy for survival and connection. Both harmonious connections and the need for survival depend on this dance. The herd matches and mirrors each other’s movements to stay together as a single unit for protection. This is also how horses form bonded partnerships in the wild.
Horses also know how to match and mirror the predators around them to stay safe. If a predator does not mind being seen, is relaxed, and not focused on any given thing, the prey animal is relaxed and does not mind being seen for they know they are safe.
Horses Mirror Humans’ Energy
If a person’s energy is accusatory or communicates with a horse when a horse feels threatened by them, or a horse does not respect or trust your leadership, it will bring out fearful, dominant, or even aggressive...
This exercise will help a horse listen to your direction. My focus is on dressage and pleasure horses, although it applies to any trained riding horse that may lose lightness. It is a two-minute exercise that is a simple maneuver that will return a horse to a soft willing connection with you when you ride. Through the practice of this exercise, your horse will respond to soft aids effortlessly, easily, and naturally. It will help you gain back the leadership that you may have lost.
I can use this maneuver to test to see if I have a willing horse. I also use it as a daily warm-up to keep my horses in a soft feel to my rein aids. Practice this maneuver four times on one side of the horse and four on the other side.
Asking for these simple maneuvers from the ground will help a horse respond more easily to directional rein aids, halt, gas pedal, collection aids, and leg yield from the saddle.
The maneuvers start by standing on the left side of a relaxed...
Grabbing Or Begging For Treats
When a foal is born the first lesson he learns from his mother is when to eat and when not to eat. Horses use food to develop relationships. They use it to establish friendships and pecking order rights. Bonding over sharing food and learning how to graze together leads to the unification of the herd. In actuality, horses see all interactions as social events, and these events take place around food. In the Resnick Method, we work with the horse’s natural instincts and communicate with him in his own language. Horses use food to establish themselves in the pecking order and we are doing the same thing.
It is acceptable to use treats at the beginning of horse training, but as you go along, the treats could become a handicap if you do not understand how to use them. Try not to use anything that will over-excite your horse. The manner in which your horse receives a treat is very important to avoid food dominance behavior and aggressive...
Last week I discussed how there are some ground activities that you may be doing with your horse that could create aggressive behavior in your horse. This week I am going to share with you about a fun game that can go wrong if you are not careful.
Aggressively Playing With A Ball
Playing with a ball is an excellent exercise for horses. Still, if a horse is allowed to play too aggressively with a ball, with ears pinned back trying to kill the ball, it can create hormone changes that can alter the horse’s behavior to be more aggressive toward you. Charging instincts can develop where you might wind up playing the role of the ball in your horse's eyes. You can stop this behavior. When your horse gets too aggressive, just take the ball away from him for the rest of the day.
The above blog header photo displays a horse happily playing with a ball. The photo below demonstrates a horse aggressively playing with a ball.
Undesirable behaviors can be turned...
Over the next few weeks, I will be discussing ground activities that you may not realize are creating aggressive behavior in your horse. These behaviors can create a loss of control from the saddle.
This week I am sharing how allowing your horse to move around when grooming can cause you to lose your leadership, connection, and control of your horse.
One of the places you may not think about losing connection with your horse is when you are grooming. While grooming, it may seem innocent enough when all you do is follow your horse around, but, there can be a hidden danger. It is important to keep a horse in one spot. If your horse causes you to follow him around to groom, he learns that he has moved your feet.
Horses in nature are constantly changing rank by moving each other’s feet. When a horse understands he has moved your feet he could lose respect for you. Allowing a horse to move your feet can lead to a horse crowding into you and not listening to your...
I have had horses all my life and started training for competition at the early age of ten in Indio, Ca. on my family's ranch. My approach was to bring a horse along in creative ways. Before I started a horse in training, I made them a family pet from the ground first, and then I creatively developed the horse for riding and showing. It was easy for me because of the bond I shared with my horses. By the time I was 14 years old, I had trained and showed three horses successfully — Mustang, who was a Mustang, in Western pleasure, Muretta Marjolaine, an American Saddlebred mare, in three gated park horse classes, and Rizeta, an Arabian mare, in English and western pleasure.
I would have never thought of teaching my training methods to others if it hadn’t been for my experience working for Augie Handley at Shadowland in La Jolla, CA. When he hired me, my job was to start off-the-track racehorses for junior riders and give hunter and jumper lessons in equitation....
We realize the sensitivity of horses; we also see that horses are resilient with a powerful spirit. We horse lovers have been drawn to horses for centuries. Horses possess a freedom that we humans search for. From our connection to horses, we strengthen our spirits.
Through the ages that horses and humans have shared the world, horses have overwhelmingly suffered because of humans’ self-serving nature.
A new consciousness is growing to give horses a better deal by taking a deep look into a horse's emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. Rather than attempting to harness their soul in an afternoon, there is more interest in taking time to get to know a horse’s personality and developing a heart connection by keeping company with your horse to get to know him or her better.
Meditation in the Company of Your Horse at Liberty
I have felt that meditation in your horse's company brings a sense of well being to both the horse and human, which opens...
Last week Nan wrote a blog about how to help horses get over herd-bound behavior/separation anxiety. I wrote this week’s blog years ago. Many people around the world have used this method of weaning and have had much success, so I wanted to share it again today. This way of weaning a foal will help a horse begin on the right foot at the beginning of life and hopefully be less herd bound as he/she grows up. This exercise can also be modified and used to help herd-bound horses.
Years ago I developed a way to wean foals that did not create trauma. I used the approach for over twenty years. During that time, I learned that horses that grew up being weaned in this manner were smarter and had a deeper sense of well-being created by the trust they had in human beings. I feel one of the biggest opportunities we have to build trust with horses can be accomplished at weaning.
There were two reasons that I did not want a foal to experience trauma. The first being my...
Herd bound horses can be difficult to deal with if you force the horse to separate from other horses that he does not want to leave. For this reason alone it is important to help a horse to get over the overwhelming need to be with the herd.
Also, when working with horses at liberty, herd bound behavior needs to be removed from your horse to help him focus on you and allow the connection between the two of you to grow. When I first began Liberty Training in The Resnick Method of Horsemanship my horses were extremely herd bound and it was difficult to work with them individually, so Carolyn shared some exercises with me to help them get over the fear of being separated and now I am going to share them with you. These exercises are a fun way to train your horse to give up herd bound behavior. It is certainly more enjoyable for horses to play these games rather than having to accept the conditions of being separated by force. In the Resnick Method, we are always looking to find a...
As a horse trainer and breeder most of my life, in my late thirties (oh, to be that young again!), I discovered something that I was not ready to accept. It was something I read in Robert Vavra’s book, Such is the Real Nature of Horses. He wrote that horses communicate through eye expressions. As a student of horses, studying the social behavior and culture of horses, I couldn’t believe that this could be so. I thought horses read facial expressions and energy but I hadn’t thought about how the eyes alone could play a part in communication.
I had a mind for details, I found how wild horses in nature create harmonious herds through a code of conduct that had yet to be discovered. It took a comprehensive effort to pay attention to the slightest nuances for anything a horse might be doing as a way to communicate. I was also aware that horses and I were communicating better than most people do with each other. I didn’t see the value of the eyes playing an active...
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