The reward is freedom. Every time a horse sits back and escapes the trap, he wins. In his mind he beat death. That’s a huge incentive to pull back the next time. If it’s more difficult to get away because of stouter equipment the horse fights harder because he perceives a bigger threat.
The Bigger the Fight the Greater the Reward
If the horse gets away again, the reward is huge. The bigger the fight the bigger the reward.
You always get more of what you reward.
If you have a horse who occasionally pulls back but isn’t 100% committed, REMOVE his reward before he’s too far gone to bring back. That doesn’t mean using a logging chain and a gag halter, but it does mean changing something.
The difference between horses who pull back and those who don’t (in relatively normal circumstances) is the human who cares for them. Sitting back is a powerful habit forged in a flood of emotional hormones released by fear.
Every Horse is Capable of Pulling Back
No one can guarantee that a particular horse will NEVER sit back when tied, but most horses happily live without the trauma of straining at the end of a locked restraint in hysterical fear for their lives.
Once your horse begins fighting for freedom, his pain receptors fail to register because fear triggers the God-given flight response. Fear is often more powerful than pain.
Which begs the question, “Why is pain even part of the equation?”
After a three-day biomechanics class I have a new appreciation for the anatomy of a horse’s head and neck (and everything else.) Proper movement and what’s possible in higher-level training begins at the poll (AO joint) where the skull and atlas (C1) meet.
Mess this up and you may live with the consequences the rest of your horse’s life. Take a moment to ponder your goal before putting a rope or web halter on that joint and snubbing him up. Think Hangman’s Knot…
Some horse can be “fixed” and some can’t. However, horses who have the flight pathway when hitched set in concrete can be managed. Here are three options to consider…