Near Death Experience Teaches Donna How To Be A Confident Leader

Ride along with me and Donna as I show her the difference in her horse having a confident leader vs. not having a confident leader.

If you could look inside your horse’s mind when he’s dealing with someone who isn’t a confident leader, this is what it would look like.

Horses thrive on having a confident leader to follow.

And if they don’t see you as a confident leader, they won’t follow or trust you.

Always act like nothing is a big deal, even though it may be a big deal in the horse’s mind.

Don’t get in a hurry and rush things. Remain cool and confident at all times.

Your body language should represent someone who has done this a million times, even if it’s your first time. Horses can sense fear and doubt, and if they pick up on it, you’re done.

Imagine a horse that’s standing at the edge of a creek and afraid to cross it.

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Why is it that (usually) when another horse walks up beside it and then crosses the creek first, the scared horse will then follow the other horse?

Because he trusts that horse as a leader.

He trusts that the leading horse won’t let any harm come to him.

Your horse should see you like that second horse.

Your horse should have full confidence that you are a worthy leader to follow and you have their best interest at heart. And even though they may be scared or unsure about something, they will allow their self preservation instinct to step aside in order to do what you are asking.

Horses can sense if you know what you’re doing or if you don’t.

They just know.

How do you know if you’re doing something correct?

You learn.

Reading these blog posts and watching these videos that I put out are a great way to improve your horsemanship.

With that said, you’ll never be perfect and neither will I. But we can always get better.

About The Author

Carson James

Carson James' background is in Vaquero Horsemanship. For the majority of his career, he worked on cattle ranches where he rode horses all day, every day. He was often in situations where he either had to figure out how to help the horse understand, or it could easily turn into a life or death situation. Carson now travels the country putting on training clinics teaching people the fundamentals of Horsemanship. He has a unique way of breaking things down where they're easy to understand, both for the horse and the human.


  • Jo Farmer

    Reply Reply January 5, 2018

    Any upcoming clinics in ocala or tampa florida?

  • Jan

    Reply Reply January 5, 2018

    I have a real problem with confidence! To the point that I don’t enjoy riding like I used to! I am 48 years old and have ridden all of my life. I buy and ride horses that I do not know in order to get them ready for resale. Back in the summer I was bucked off from my mare that I had written several times. Since then I cannot get my confidence back! If I do not know the horse really well , i dread riding to the point that I just do not do it. Not sure how to regain the confidence to put the joy back into my job.

    • Carson James

      Reply Reply January 6, 2018

      Hi Jan, my advice for your situation is to re-visit when you got bucked off. Figure out why it happened and what you did wrong. What caused the horse to buck? What could you do to help prevent it from happening again? Confidence comes from knowledge. The more knowledge you can gain, the more confident you’ll become.

  • Catherine Reilly-Richards

    Reply Reply January 5, 2018

    I never get on a horse I don’t do some ground work with first. I have learned the hard way the old truth that if its bad on the ground its worse in the saddle. I do a lot of direction changes and ask for changes in speed all from the ground. I want to see what the attitude is on the ground see if they are willing to take direction. It works out the kinks. I would rather they do the shocking bits when Im not on them. Its like a pre ride check list. My 5 year old I got as green broke will give me attitude from time to time its nice to settle that out before the ride.

    • Carson James

      Reply Reply January 6, 2018

      That’s really smart. And it’s funny that you call it the “pre-ride checklist”. I have an entire online course called that!

  • Judy

    Reply Reply January 5, 2018

    Do you ever do clinics in Portland, Oregon area or Vancouver, Washington area?

  • nat goodale

    Reply Reply January 5, 2018

    Up until 5 years ago I was fearful of horses. I am a licensed a boat captain. Now in Ecuador, with all my local friends with horses, we take wild rides into the Andes. I completely understand your post. As do my horses.

  • Ronda Stewart

    Reply Reply January 5, 2018

    Hi Carson, a few questions here. I love the Vaquero Horsemanship way! Can you tell me which Ranches you worked on in the past? Most if not all your training sounds like Ray Hunt. Did you live on a ranch with him or study under Ray?

    • Carson James

      Reply Reply January 6, 2018

      I’ve worked at the Diamond A in Arizona and Roaring Springs in Oregon. Also worked on a ranch in Red Lodge, Montana. I worked for Jay Holmes (performance horse trainer) and studied under him for a while. Most of my knowledge came from studying Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance. I read their books and put it into practice.

  • Billie

    Reply Reply January 6, 2018

    Well done Carson; cute, entertaining and got the point across in a respectful manner to both horse and human. Keep up the good work.

    • Carson James

      Reply Reply January 6, 2018

      Thanks. We’re going to try to do more stuff like this in 2018. Our resolution this year was to make more entertaining content. Wait till you see what’s coming up.

  • Donna Santos

    Reply Reply January 6, 2018

    Excellent video. Excellent example on getting the message across. What I take from that also is even if I make a mistake don’t get frazzled and try again. Is that right?

    • Carson James

      Reply Reply January 6, 2018

      Yes. Horses can sense if someone is unsure of something. They just know. Even if you’re not 100% sure, don’t let the horse figure it out. Always be cool, calm, confident and act like nothing’s a big deal. You’re presence should be that of someone who’s done it 1,000 times, even if it’s your first. Imagine if you went to the doctor and he started acting like he wasn’t sure what was wrong with you or how he was going to fix it vs. a doctor who came in and said there was a problem but it’s no big deal. He deals with it every day and nothing to be concerned about.

  • Elaine Bailey

    Reply Reply January 6, 2018

    Greetings, I have real reservations in writing this. But one never knows, you could be my answer. I have a mare that I’ve had now for 6 years. She’s been in a trailer accident she’s been bitten by a pitbull and we’ve come a long way together. She does very well when she and I ride alone but when I am with another horse or two or more she absolutely starts to lose her mind. She wants to be upfront and is extremely hyped up in the middle or at the back of the ride. To a novice she would be very frightening, but I don’t want to give up on her. She can put in 50 steps when another horse puts in one. When she’s in that situation she prances uncontrollably and really does not look what she’s doing where she’s going she’s just a nervous wreck. If you can give me any advice, I would really appreciate it. I’m willing to try whatever it takes. I’m not giving up. Thank you so much. Elaine a Bailey

    • Carson James

      Reply Reply January 6, 2018

      Well thank you for having the courage to write it. Don’t feel like you have to have reservations with me. I’ve seen and heard it all! Those are all signs of a horse that isn’t confident. Just like in this video. The horse is very unsure of what it needs to do.

      As far as wanting to be ahead on the trail…

      What you want to do is make it difficult for him to be in the front and easy for him to be in the back. When he feels like he wants to be at the front of the herd, just turn loose and let him go right up there where he thinks he wants to be.

      But do not let his feet stop moving when he gets to the front. Have him start trotting small circles, stopping, backing, turning, trotting up and down the trail 20 feet or so back and forth back and forth. Keep those feet moving and keep them very busy. What you will be doing is making him work hard when he is at the front of herd, then as you’re working him, make a slight suggestion for him to head towards the back of the herd, but do nothing more than that.

      Do not try to make him go back. He may go about 5 feet towards the back and then turn right around and go back to the front.

      Just go right with him and put him right back to work. Every time you get him towards the back of the herd, ease off and let him walk. Make that easy.

      You basically just make it very uncomfortable to be at the front.

      And as for wanting to be near other horses, do the exact same thing. Ride in through the group, around them, back and forth through them, just keep those feet busy. When he’s slightly away from them let him rest. If your timing is good with your pressure and release, in a few minutes you will feel him not wanting to get near the other horses.

  • Deb Jabs

    Reply Reply January 6, 2018

    Hi Carson, I love your approach to dealing with people you keep it fun. I used to tell my riding students fun first, ribbons second. After 30 years of riding and training professionally, I gave it up so I could just ride for myself and the good of the horse. I have been exposed to too many trainers that use agressive methods and almost lost my way. In order to challenge myself to learning a better way I adopted a young molly mule that is starting to shed her first baby incisors. I am looking forward to applying your way to my first mule. She is super sensitive and light on her feet like a cutter. I want her to stay that way because she is so talented. Any suggestions for mules in this process? I love your little movies. I am a hands on visual learner.

  • Joe Ed Casillas

    Reply Reply January 6, 2018

    I really think your video professionals do a great job with making the videos fun and enjoyable but the models you use are so beautiful and the actors so good one thinks they could actually be horse folk. Butch (Mr. R) must be proud. Yep knowing first hand in person the real horse folks and down to earth care given the professional attitude makes the simple horsemanship driving force for the horse person wanting to improve the horsemanship skill no matter what level one is at. So improtant is each of our horses may bring us here ( or a client’s horse for professional trainers ) since treating the horses as individuals and not using formulas or “a Method” or “Program” but adjusting to the needs of not just the horse but the moment , the feel and timing the release, reward, and what is effective pressure as a member of a herd hierarchy in order to become confident enough for the horse to look for your leadership, not blindly foolishly but as someone that will not risk their mortality,survival or ,well being which this video deos address. The life and death importance to a horse is not to be taken without vital earned badges of accomplishment in the world they are familar with in skills that relate to them as dialogue. I would reccommmend to anyone with any minor or major issues with horses your web membership for at least three months to investigate how much improvement you lend to thier horse’s development through our own improvement in skills … How do you help the skilled or unskilled? How did Ray Hunt? And Tom Dorrance? And your mentors? By caring with all your heart as if your life depends and thier life depends on it …. about the relationship of survival is a start, horse survival translates to respect not fear driven but the kind of love and passion horses give each other is like the sense of being able to arrive safe on a drive with confident leadership in where one is going illustrated so simply here! Passion ,care and not giving up by doing what it takes to thrive and not merely survive builds a releationship of trust and bonds deeper than one can imagine if one is ready to hear. And if we are here it is the first sign of caring enough to do something for the horse and ourselves relationship to survive and then be able thrive, and jive!

  • Sheila

    Reply Reply January 7, 2018

    Hi Carson, I am looking for a safe sane seasoned barrel horse. I am 63 and barrel raced for 25 years, but have not run foe about 10 years. My horse I had for 23 1/2 years, lost her in 2011, along with most of my heart. I trained her myself in barrels, when she was 3. Rather, she trained me, she just loved it. Anyway, I rode English for years and insist my horses be light and collected, and a pleasure to ride, as in smooth, not jar your eyeteeth out…I have tried 4 horses so far, only one fit me, but she was a “bleeder”, and has to be maintained on Lasix when competing. This seemed like a lot to TAKE ON, though they say it is mild and maintained with 4mg of Lasix. I am a retired RN, so quite knowledgeable about meds, but not bleeders in barrel horses? What do you think of purchasing a horse that met every requirement, but is a bleeder? I am very conflicted. I know they “make them everyday”, but a talented automatic barrel horse does not grow on trees! Is that metaphor as mixed as possible, lol? P.S. love your approachable approach. Thanks , this old Virginia Cowgirl snowbirding
    In the Sunshine State. May try to make your Ocala stop.

  • Maria Jo

    Reply Reply January 10, 2018

    That was absolutely the funniest video!!!

  • Connie

    Reply Reply January 11, 2018

    Hi Carson! I have a 3 yr old filly, riding well, eager to learn, wonderful horse! But. Everyday I call up the horses and they come a running for the hay. As Filly comes down the hill, she’ll pause and THROW her head up, once or twice, then she’ll break into a canter, come running, etc. And sometimes out the window, if I see her headed to the pond, she’ll TOSS that pretty head high in the air, then trot on about her business. Now…(let me just say quick that she’s only been ridden in a rope halter and lead, no bridle thus far.) …When we hit the saddle, she’s started doing that. Once or twice, as we ride, she throws her head. Not in response to any commands, just as we’re strolling along. Once she tossed her head enuf for her mane to tickle my nose. It’s kind of annoying, I could see it becoming a problem. But I don’t know how to proceed, I guess. I ignored it as it was happening, mostly because I didn’t want to do the wrong thing. I would rather try to address the issue than just try to fix it with more tack like a tie down. Any thoughts? Anyone? She eats well, isn’t suddenly head shy or anything. I’ve even wondered if it became a habit from tossing her mane out of her eyes, it’s very thick and long. Any feed back would be most welcome! Thanks!

  • Christine Miller

    Reply Reply January 24, 2018

    Maybe she needs a neck adjustment.

  • Mary A Olar

    Reply Reply March 29, 2018

    In today’s world there are so many people out there that sure could use a bunch of this here horse sense in their own personal lives and just maybe, we would worry less about opioids, overdoses and way too many child suicides from being bullied. As a very proud member of Bikers Against Bullies and spending 10 years as a carriage driver in Beaufort, SC., I would love to get in touch with you and see if there is an incorporation that we can achieve by working together to teach our children whose lives have been drastically altered by all of the above. The time is now to find the solutions that will create the biggest change in our own communities around the world now. I think you and Donna are a great team of teaching this message and getting all of us out of the gate so to speak!

  • Michelle

    Reply Reply August 28, 2018

    Hey Carson,
    I tried just one of the four things you say we must do to earn the respect and be our horses leader and I have seen an amazing reaction. I can’t wait to learn more. I’m hoping you come to Murfreesboro, Tn, so I can see you in action. Thank you so much.

  • LaNita Lovercheck

    Reply Reply January 21, 2019

    Carson I have a Horse that used to bolt even when walking him with a lead rope. It was big. I did lots of ground work with him and have gotten past that with your videos. He has bolted with me several times while riding him. I went back to lots of desinsitizing etc and was feeling so good about our progress and then the other day he bolted again in the arena. I am able to catch it quicker now at walk and the Trott but am now anxious now waiting for it every time I ride him. It is so quick it lays me back on the saddle. I never really understand what has caused it. This Horse will walk over water tarps and is good in the round pen and I have done some liberty work with him. Any suggestions?

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