I knew he was reactive but thought I could handle him. So many people told me to just expose him to everything and he would get better. Instead of getting better, he got worse every time I took him somewhere or even when riding him around my own property. Any little thing could startle him, but I kept going thinking that he would get used to things. His spooks were never huge, so I kept trying to do what I thought was right. After my fall I was angry and to tell you the truth, a little hurt in both pride and my feelings. I had given my horse every thing I thought he needed not to mention he had a great herd to hang out with on 10 acres. What more could he possibly want or need?
Kathy explained to me that I had done so many things right, but I was missing a very crucial part of a good relationship. She showed me how to help my horse relax; How to get him to trust me and to look to me for decisions, instead of taking over as he was used to doing. I thought I had a good relationship with my guy, but I was so wrong. In all my years of lessons, no one ever told me the things that Kathy was teaching me. I had no idea that we were missing so much!
I just loaded my horse the other day without a halter or lead rope. We walked to the back of the trailer and he very slowly stepped in just as he was asked. The last time I took him somewhere, it took over an hour to load him. He waits to see what I am doing before he makes a decision. I go to get him from the pasture and walk him to the barn at liberty. His ears were untouchable but now he lowers his head for a scratch. I can touch him anywhere and he does not worry. The most interesting part of all of this is that I did’t touch him everywhere for him to not worry. I didn’t back him up time and time again to get him to back up so lightly that it feels like he is bouncing off my suggestion. When I take him away from his herd he no longer worries about not being with them. Kathy has shown me how to be his leader, plain and simple. She has shown me how to help him relax when something might get a little scary for him. She has shown me how to be the one he wants to be with, the one he wants to trust and wait for. In the process of “teaching my horse” a funny thing happened. I learned to feel for my horse. I learned to read his emotions so much more than I ever thought possible. I learned to wait for him too.
Thanks Kathy, you have changed my life and that of my horse. We are both grateful!