A rider’s mentality can have a profound effect on their horse’s overall movement and behavior.

The Sensitive Horse

Because of his size, it’s easy to forget that a horse is an ultra sensitive animal. They can feel the slightest touch. But they can also become less sensitive to contact in a certain area with repeat exposure. For example, when a horse adapts to wearing a saddle. That’s the positive side.

An entire training program designed to create a solid, problem-free horse in one tiny audio player. Learn more here: https://sp.carsonjames.com/horsetracks

The negative side of that is when the rider applies constant leg or rein pressure with no release or reward. The horse can eventually become dull to those signals because the rider has failed to give them meaning. The horse still feels them, but has learned to ‘wear’ the pressure. 

Dictates Of The Rider’s Mentality

The mentality of the rider will dictate how he/she rides and interacts with the horse. And that will dictate how the horse responds.

A rider with a nagging and indecisive mentality will create an obstinate and confused horse. A rider with a dull and lethargic mentality will create an inattentive and lifeless horse. 

But if the rider has a lively, focused mentality, it will feed those same-type thoughts into the horse. Remember that you’re dealing with a life form. Your horse has instinctual emotions. He has a brain that is attempting to interpret the signals he’s being given. His attitude and habits will largely be determined by the rider’s mindset and actions.

Dull Rider Mentality

You never want to ride your horse around with a lackadaisical mindset. Even if you’re simply walking down the trail, move with your horse. Keep your life and energy up. Let your ‘go somewhere’ mindset leak down into your horse as he detects the liveliness in your body. 

When asking your horse to back, turn, or move forward, be careful not to let him die out. A main goal should be to keep the momentum going. Otherwise, your horse will develop sluggish habits like falling onto his front end, dropping a shoulder, wallowing through a turn, and stalling out.

More instruction about controlling Shoulder and Hips

Lively Rider Mentality

A rider that has a lively mentality will recognize and amend any time the horse slips into an apathetic mindset and loses his ‘try’. Your horse can’t read your mind, but your overall attitude will determine how your cues are both applied and interpreted.

Watch this concept in action in this video:  Ride Your Horse With Energy And Purpose

Confident Rider Mentality

Decide what you’re going to ask your horse to do before you ask him to do it. Have a goal and picture of what you’re wanting to accomplish in your mind. It may have to be altered depending on the horse’s level of understanding, but be fully committed before you begin to implement any maneuver. The goal may be to long trot in a straight line across the pasture. It may be to move the hip one step to the right. Being confident in what you are asking will help you communicate more clearly with your horse. That, in turn, will build his confidence.

For more insight on how to become more confident, read this:  Rider Confidence.

Harsh Rider Mentality

We’ve all heard the philosophy of making the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult. And that is solid horse training advice. But some riders have taken this concept to mean that you make the wrong thing harsh or unfairly forceful. Trying to strong-arm a horse into submission is not the same as making the wrong thing difficult. Be as firm (not harsh) as necessary and as light as possible…..with good timing. Fix it up and let him find it. A horse will always gravitate away from what puts him in a bind and gravitate towards what you make feel good.

Fearful Rider Mentality

A fearful mentality will prevent a rider from setting the boundaries that a horse needs. A horse is a very moldable creature, but he can only do what he thinks is the best thing to do at each moment. And it’s our job to show him what that is. Being afraid to get firm when necessary will be a huge disadvantage to your communication. Along with that, you must also know when to be light and make that the path of least resistance.

Read more about The #1 Horse Problem

The solution to being a fearful rider is to improve your horsemanship (therefore your horse) to the point that you have a solid mount underneath you. All the resources you need for that are on BuckarooCrew.com.


Stay aware of your mentality. Every time you ride, you are building habits both in yourself and your horse. Let’s make sure they are good ones.

Carson James
Carson James

Carson James' background is in Vaquero Horsemanship, and for the majority of his career, he worked on cattle ranches where he rode horses all day, every day. His knowledge comes from real life experience using traditional Buckaroo horsemanship to train horses and fix problems. He is now taking all of this knowledge and experience and sharing it with horse owners through his blog, his Insider list, and his Buckaroo Crew. He has a unique way of breaking things down where they're easy to understand, both for the horse and the human.