One thing that really ‘grinds my gears’ is when people try to over-complicate horse training, horse tack, and everything else that has to do with a horse. But the truth is, it’s really not that complicated.
Horses are basically simple animals. They react or respond by instinct and learn by repetition and reinforcement. They do remember the past, but they always live in the present moment, and are unable to plan for the future. Their main objective is to be safe and comfortable. Once you understand a few basic principles and how to work WITH their instincts instead of against them, you find they are willing to cooperate with what you are asking them to do.
Humans Make It Complicated
The horse industry has skewed and distored the straightforward concepts of pioneers like Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt. People are made to believe they have to be a magical wizared to get anything done with a horse. But what these master horsemen taught and demonstrated was not complicated. If you want a horse to do something, make that easy. Make it his idea. He will do it and he will like doing it. Ray Hunt said, “How can something so simple be so difficult?” Humans make it complicated. Horses keep it simple. It’s not always easy. But, it’s not complicated.
Horse Tack Complications
The horse tack business has also turned into a complicated and mind boggling industry offering hundreds of different bits and saddles and blankets and supplements and training aids. How do you choose? It’s enough to make anyone throw up their hands in defeat.
One of the simplest pieces of equipment there is, the traditional hackamore, has been mystified to the point of scaring many people away from the thought of ever attempting to use one. But, in reality, it is a very primitive tool that operates by a very basic and understandable concept. Using a traditional hackamore is not complicated. It simply requires applying and releasing pressure with good timing.
To learn more, watch my Headgear Video.
Don’t Over Complicate It
One common idea is that if my horse doesn’t slow down or stop good in a light bit, then I should use a harsher bit. And if he doesn’t slow down or stop good in a bit, then I can never use a traditional hackamore. The problem is not what is on his face. The problem lies in the rider’s hands and approach. Somewhere in the horse’s past, he learned that the way to be safe and comfortable is to push past the pressure. And no one has yet convinced him otherwise.
Above all, be aware of what signals you are sending your horse. You don’t need hundreds of dollars of training aids and complicated headgear. You simply need to develop an understanding of how a horse thinks and operates. Work on a horse and that horse gets better. Work on yourself and all your horses get better. Don’t overthink it, and don’t over complicate it.
There are multiple examples of how to keep things simple throughout my Tales Of Horsemanship book. In each of the 44 stories included, we dive deep into the psychology of the horse’s brain to reveal why the problem started in the first place, and what type of barriers he must overcome in order to find success.
Order it here: Tales Of Horsemanship