Often I ask people about the personality of their horses, and they tell me “he really works hard”, and “he is talented”, and “nice to ride”, and I wonder if they ever really tried to understand who their horse is.
Does he prefer carrots or apples? Is he afraid of thunder? Does he have a high tolerance for pain or does he moan about a prickle in his foot? Is he funny or serious? Proud or embarrassed?
These questions to some will seem ridiculous. To others, perhaps those who have known horses their whole lives, will get exactly what I’m talking about…
Who is my horse?
Batialo eats Bananas, but ONLY if they are the last thing on offer. Carrots and apples are on par with eachother, but sugar lumps, well those are the rump steak of the sweets in his world.
He is not afraid of anything, and there was only one time that I saw him genuinely scared and that was when he had his foot in a bucket of ice after a nail stuck into his hoof, and when he moved and the ice shook, and a look came on his face that I had never seen before, nor have I seen it since.
He thinks travelling is boring, but he loves going to new places. And, he is my inspiration in life for one very simple reason, which has nothing to do with his talent, or the way he his to ride. He just loves life!
If he were a human he would be one of those annoyingly happy people, who is always joking with everyone, and even when he is exhausted still has a smile on his face. And man does he think he is hilarious! If no one else is laughing as his joke, you can be sure that he is.
A vet can inject him, or pull his tail, or take blood, or pretty much anything without him being tied up, but if someone treats him unfairly, you can consider them permanently warned.
He is a giant sook though. If he has a slight stomach ache he will look rather pathetic, and will tell you, a lot, just how god awful he is feeling.
Furthermore, he is the only horse I have ever had that when he has just been fed and I call him, he will come away from his food to see what I want. He will of course have a face like “Sarah hurry up because I’m rather busy”, yet nevertheless he will come, and he will wait until he knows what I want. (and if I don’t have a reason he will give me an interesting look, bit like the look of Maggie Smith on Downton Abby).
People often wonder why their horse doesn’t understand their aids, or more importantly when they get in a strange environment, their horse doesn’t trust them and instead gets out of control and anxious.
Batialo plays, but it’s because he thinks he is just the bees knees, and sometimes it is all a bit boring. But he trusts me. Absolutely.
When people wonder why their horse is afraid, why the horse doesn’t trust them in the saddle, I would ask these people a very simple question…Do you trust people who don’t know who you are?
Would you trust someone to lead you if they never tried to understand what makes you tick, what are your fears, your strengths and your weaknesses?
Chances are you wouldn’t, so take the time to know your horse, and think about how the personality of your horse should be catered for in training. You do not train every horse the same way, because of course every horse is different, not just physically, but in terms of WHO THEY ARE!!
Once you know who your horse is, you can earn his trust, his respect, and what greater thing is their in life to have earned the admiration of an animal.
“It is not the audience that we must impress and seduce, but, quite to the contrary, the horse” (Nuno Oliveira)
Stay tuned to Eurodressage for the full article on “The Horses mind”, with quotes from Ingrid Klimke, Stephen Clarke, and many others.