Letting Your Horse Take the Lead

If you have been following me a while, you probably know that my horse Chance has had quite a bit of time off due to EPM. Years, actually. Now that he has recovered, I am in nursing school and crazy busy. I have tried to work him, but it has been pretty start and stop. I also have not been confidant that he really wants to work again, as he has seemed so much happier since he stopped working. Of course he was not sound for a long time, so that makes a difference. But since he has been sound, I just have not been convinced that working again is in his best interest.

Though he always seemed to enjoy jumping, he never like the pressure of horse showing. Though he made a cute hunter, I sometimes wonder if I had done him in the jumpers he would have liked it better. He could have been hot, shaken his head, and run like a bat out of hell in the jumper ring instead of always having to slow down and stay steady.

One thing I know for sure is that he loves living at home, in the pasture. He loves not having pressure. But maybe there is a way he can work without pressure.

I tried lunging him again this week, and let him sort of take the lead. I didn’t push him forward, but rather asked him to work. And you know what? He was great. He moved forward, and didn’t get wild even though I could see he had pent up energy. I gave him choices, with no pressure, and he responded. It reminded me of when he was in full work, and how much better he would be when I let go and didn’t try to control him. He is a very dominant horse, and hates being bossed around (I know the feeling!). He always used to enjoy taking the lead on course too, and rebelled when I micro-managed him – as many hotter horses do. Obviously, horses need boundaries too and cannot be allowed to walk all over us. However, I have found that giving them space and choices can make a huge difference.

I don’t know what will come of this new bout of work, but I do know that he is going to get to choose his own path from here on out. He gets to take the lead this time.

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