I sat across the table from a woman who loves her horses but isn’t getting the results she hoped for. She’s invested time, cash, and emotion in volunteering and lessons, trying to bond with her equine family. My heart filled with joy because I knew something wonderful was about to happen.
When talking shop with horse owners, I often hear that their reality doesn’t match their dream. If that’s you, reset your relationship with this one change and begin transforming your resistant or balky horse to one more obedient and willing.
Here’s the one-step to change: Let your horse win.
Let The Horse Win
The best trainers set up each request, exercise, or maneuver so they can tell the horse, “Well done!” and mean it. If you tell your horse he does wrong or offer correction more times than you tell him he’s fabulous, the problem isn’t the horse, it’s your training style.
Ask your horse to do something simple. Easy. Get a ‘yes’ and then ask for something else that’s simple. Easy. Get a ‘yes’ and do it again.
Teach your horse that he’s a winner! That’s he’s successful. Confidence will build in both his own performance and ability, but also in your leadership, resulting in enhanced relationship.
What’s In It For the Horse?
We love people who love us. Who tell us we’re fabulous – because we are. You know when someone is shining you on; horses are even more astute.
Reward your horse for offering his attention. What’s in it for him? If you don’t know the answer, maybe that’s a good place to begin. Think about what you’re asking for and precisely define what the right answer looks like.
Motivation is real. You may think that providing food and water is a big enough deal, but horses know far more than we. Jesus tells us that God knows what we need and sends it. Horses in your care expect (and deserve) the basics. Food and water aren’t motivators, they’re requirements from any good steward.
Tell Your Horse “Well Done” and Mean It
You can’t fool a horse and you can’t fool God.
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. – 1 John 5:3
Jesus offers a light burden and easy yoke. Alongside Him tasks become simple. Easy. Do you dream of hearing “Well done!” from your Master? Horses aren’t much different. God doesn’t slap you down every three minutes for failing. Why do it to a horse?
Use praise as a marker, like a clicker. To mark, “Yes, that’s it!” or as support, “Good. Steady on.” Set your horse up to win. To always be right and do the right thing. Never risk applying correction when he didn’t understand or simply made a wrong choice.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss. – James 4:3
Reset Your Relationship with This One Change
Your faith in Christ is a combination of faith in Him, faith in His power to transform you, and confidence in your own ability to serve as instructed. Trust and self-assurance grow every time circumstances test your ability and you succeed.
Faith is crushed by failure. Remember an instance when you were asked to do something, you tried your best, yet earning nothing more than, “No, that was wrong”? Failure kills motivation and makes room for doubt. It introduces hesitancy rather than encouraging boldness.
Let your horse win.
Never Punish a Try
Nothing damages your bond with a horse more than punishing him for trying. Effort is always a SUCCESS. “Well done!”
The next step after an attempt that wasn’t spot-on is REFINING what you ask. Set your horse up to win. What’s on trial isn’t your horses ability, but yours, setting up each request so your horse does well and earns your honest and delighted praise.
Is your reality less than your dream? Do you need to tweak something in the relationship you share with your horse? Do you have a question? Ask.
Seeking information isn’t admitting failure, but proof that you’re seeking greater skills. It’s a proactive effort that deserves a “Well done!” Every try deserves praise, including yours!
Sometimes we expect our horses to be better students than we are, but they can only be as precise and focused as we are. This is a safe space. My goal is to help you as much as it is to help your horse.
There’s no limit to what’s possible in relationship with a horse. Test it. Change begins when you change.
Begin fresh tomorrow. Make every request simple. Easy. And not burdensome. Let your horse win.
(Photo courtesy of Morguefile.)
Related post: Are You Easy to Obey?