A closer look at confidence in a horse

We often tend to generalize: My horse is lazy. My horse is confident. And while being ridden the lazy horse hardly trots, but on the pasture he loves to chase his buddies around. And while on the pasture the confident horse is relaxed, but under saddle he spooks in every corner of the arena. 
Confidence is similar to fear: In order to understand it, we need to analyze it. When exactly is our horse confident? It took me years to understand that the gelding I work with - labeled lazy and gentle - is absolutely unconfident when learning new things. You assume that as he is always able to cope, because he does not overreact in terms of running off or bucking and because he seems so relaxed around everything. Well, his fear is not easy to detect. He gets tense, and hectic and he tries his heart out for you - so you better not pressure him. 
So next time when you meet your horse try to think in confidence as categories - horse and human, horse and other horses, horse and the arena, horse on the trail, horse when learning a.s.o. Figure out where he is easily able to cope and where he looses his confidence. As soon as you know, you can help him. 

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