There are strong leaders, passive leaders, dictators, feckless guides, and bullies. What kind of leader are you?
Horses appreciate a good leader. We may challenge you now and then, but we hope you’re strong enough to stand up to our testing. There are very few of us who really want to be the leader. We want YOU to lead and be in charge of keeping us safe. We relax when we’re confident that you’re taking responsibility for the both of us.
Being the leader can be tough for some people. Some humans think it’s “mean” to take charge. They think they’re being kind by letting us make our own decisions. This isn’t how horses think. If we have confidence in your strong leadership, we allow ourselves to relax. If you don’t take charge, most of us will. We’ll look for things to be wary of, which often results in spooking. If we’re the ones left in charge, we expect you to be nothing but a passenger. We may still like you, but we also lose respect for you.
One of the ways you let us know that you’re in charge is by moving our feet. In horse language, he who moves the other guy’s feet is the boss. It’s that simple. Just by taking the leadrope and asking us to step sideways a few steps, take a few steps backward, and then move out forward, you let us know that you’re in charge. Just remember that you have to be in charge when you get on our backs, too!
Are you a good leader for your horse? Do you have the tools you need to remind your horse that he is safe with you in charge? Be fair, but be firm. Be a good, clear guide. Your horse won’t resent your leadership. In fact, he craves it.