When the Horse is Lacking Confidence
If the horse had true confidence in us we wouldn’t have to use a flag, but when horses are lacking in confidence they require guidance, direction and boundaries in which we can operate.
In the wild horses would rather perish then go through some obstacles. I have seen this in horses’ instinctiveness for self preservation. It can lead to their demise, fatality or success. These circumstances did not occur everyday . But their lives are not everyday as it once was 3000 years ago.
A flag should only be used to help horse lacking in confidence and the handlers skill sets or own confidence are lacking, and we should only ask the horse to take on something that the horse can accomplish safely. At first the horse has reservation. Once the horse trusts us in what we ask the horse to achieve, the less the effort on our behalf. Nearly all the the things we introduce the horse is foreign; stables, horse trucks and floats, riding, jumping a cross country course etc. Riders use their legs, heels, bits, reins, halters lead etc. Used with understanding eg. to ride a horse, the horse is best when between your legs in front of your feet, and behind your hands. Boundaries just the same as the flag. If a horse requires straightening while riding the rider may us their seat hands and feet for correct direction but once the horse understands this and gains confidence in our request direction, an understanding is achieved.
No doubt you have seen horses refusing a jump, what does the rider do? Not that I agree how all riders accomplish this. I try to get the horse confident on the ground first establish boundaries and maintain their focus on the situation at hand, which requires the horse not using the human as a door mat or soft grass beneath the horse’s hooves. Also once the horse is trying I let the horse work it out as you will see when you watch the whole outcome from go to woa. I don’t continually use the flag, only as a back up when things get stopped and a little increase in direction is required. I ask for a try I don’t demand, theres a big difference there.
“The slightest try the slightest change reward.”
That is a try in the right direction. This day and age a lot of horses are started as foals, and are more accepting of things as they gain trust. But foals started incorrectly are more trouble then those that haven’t been handled at all. I have found with the correct use of the flag helps others stay safer but nothing is a guarantee. Notice how once the horse accepts things in the halter the lead becomes long and is now only a suggestion.
It is only a part of the journey with the horse. I respect and love my horse and we definitely have a relationship and understanding that I think enough to help others achieve this as well.
It all comes down to a relationship with the horse. I was told by highly respected horseman;
“you want the horse to believe that it could climb a telegraph pole or go down a wombat hole.”
But you would never actually ask of this. Only what the horse is truly capable of, but the desire to think it could. Confidence. And after all that if people don’t like people dealing with Equus and wish to set them all free, their numbers would decline and their importance as mans companion would diminish. During evolution it was the man’s love and appeal of the horses that prolonged its existence, I could go on but the horse’s domestication would not have taken place and Equus would be just another exhibit in the museum.
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