Solving problems and conflict between horse and human relationships for farriery.
As with many things, horsemanship has seen a lot of changes in the last couple of decades. Some authors have referred to it as a revolution in horsemanship. From my own personal experience, I see it as a golden age, or at least we’re on the threshold of a golden age in horsemanship. I know in my lifetime, there certainly has never been a better more exciting time than now to own a horse, thanks to this revolution.
There are some great modern day horse trainers that have an excellent understanding of horses and their psychology. They take the time to teach a horse through a “step by step” process and they are able to do some incredible things with them. But this new horsemanship has not yet come fully to farrier work, (the art and science of trimming and shoeing horses’ hooves).
In the old days, when cowboys ‘broke’ horses, nature was viewed as something that had to be conquered. The process the cowboys used basically became a contest or battle of human vs horse. This left many horses and cowboys with short careers, and quite a few horses that only a cowboy could ride. This is also how rodeo came into being.
One of the reasons it was such a battle was the horse being restrained. Cowboys might rope the horse and snub it up to a post to put a saddle and rider on, but there is nothing that will bring out more resistance from a horse than restraining it. This is why the really good modern day trainer never restrains a horse, and why most of them use a round pen. Instead of trying to stop movement, they use movement and direct the animal to teach the horse what behavior is wanted.
The best of the modern day horse trainers spend time preparing a horse to accept having something on its back. They don’t want the process to turn into a battle. What creates much confusion in horse to human relationships is people not recognizing the fear response from a horse. Many horses are accused of being stubborn, ornery, mean, or just plain crazy, when actually it’s just that the horse is afraid. Because the trainer doesn’t recognize the response as fear the wrong approach is taken and this usually creates more problems. Once you understand how and why a horse is responding to what you are doing, you can prevent and solve problems.
The best trainers don’t use force in their training programs. How can you expect to beat or force out fear? These approaches also need to be applied to the horse for farrier work because it is not absent of the need for training, either. Horses do not have to be forced, drugged, twitched, put in stocks, legs tied up, or thrown down for them to accept farrier work. They can be trained to accept and not fear it. The definition of accept is – to tolerate something without protesting or attempting to change it.
Trust is the foundation for all good relationships.
From Trust comes Acceptance.
From Acceptance comes Cooperation.
From Cooperation comes Willingness (or “try” as some trainers call it).
The use of force will not bring out the willingness in the horse. For example, if I come up to you to shake your hand but wouldn’t let go, or give it back – you’re going to try harder and harder to get your hand free from me. If I’m bigger and stronger than you, you might eventually give up. But you’re certainly not going to want to shake hands with me again.
The use of force can make things even more difficult the next time you try to work with the horse. Force may get the shoeing job done, but when you can obtain the horse’s trust you will help the horse to be accepting, cooperative, and willing. This is especially important for horse owners who have far less experience handling horses’ hooves than farriers. As a horse owner, you need to be able to handle your horse’s legs and feet safely. You need to be able to clean out the hooves before and after riding, making sure no rocks are stuck in the shoe or frog area of the hoof. You may also need to be able to treat thrush, abscesses, or other hoof problems. Some owners ride with boots on their horses and they need to be able to put them on and take them off safely.
Good training doesn’t cause problems – but the lack of it sure does. “Problem Free Shoeing” means fewer problems for you, and a more trusting horse.
There are enough battles in life to fight -
When you get the chance make it a dance.
Problem free shoeing has the horses smiling!
Problem free Shoeing is solving problems and conflict between horse and human relationships for farriery.