Are you ready for the meanest horse photos on earth?
I officially apologize to my project horse for making them public. But I just can't help it.

You think this is a rather unfavorable perspective? Wait till you see
the next photo.

Does it become any meaner than this? I don't think so.
Just blame it on the photographer. All photos: Nadja (in a mean mood)

PS: If you feel like distorting your horse too, all you need is a small low-tech camera, a steep hill and a mean angle.

Leslie Desmond, who rode with Tom and Bill Dorrance, held a clinic in Switzerland some months ago. She gave me some new perspectives on horses and horsemanship, one being to appreciate the horse‘s tries - even if he tries the wrong thing. You might know that Pat Parelli, too, often says „reward the slightest try“.
If I want my horse to back for instance, and I move the rope until I get the first step back, most likely my arm feels like it‘s about to fall off and my horse is mad and confused as he bumped in the rope with his nose repeatedly. Which comes pretty close to yelling at him constantly. 
It‘s up to me to discern when the horse understands what I want and then to take out the pressure immediately and stop moving the rope. 

If our horse is more eager to get away from us than he is to come to us
we know that we need to change something. Photo: Nadja

Understanding on the horse‘s part does not necessarily mean that he steps back eagerly. His expression just might have changed or - which is more obvious - he started to shift his weight back or lifted a leg in order to get back. These small beginnings is what I reward first. I see the horse‘s efforts and I let him know by releasing that he is on the right track. 
Slowly I ask for a whole step, and then several steps. It‘s important to release for the tries to confirm the horse and to keep up his motivation. If he tries, but hasn‘t got it completely yet, and instead of rewarding we firm up, we spoil being obedient for him. Instead he learns that we are hard to please. Next time, maybe he won‘t even try for us, or only reluctantly.

I guess, we all have come across someone in our lifes - be it a teacher or even our parents - who made that mistake with us. Someone who just derided or ignored our honest efforts (as humble as they might have been). For someone like that you don‘t go the extra mile anymore. 

I believe, that more often than not, we don‘t recognize when our horse is trying. We look over it (not intentionally) and then conclude that we need to firm up or become clearer. Instead, it would be more appropriate to just wait and give the horse some time to figure it out. 

If you want to know more about Join up techniques you might want to visit Beth's blog "horsey experiences" and read my guest post. I compare the hooking on methods used by Monty Roberts, Warwick Schiller and Pat Parelli and explain them. 
There are some human behaviors my brain refuses to understand. Like: The horse is tied up in the aisle. The human wants to turn it around. He walks straight and with a lot of energy to the hindend and hits the horse with his hand on the butt. The horse flinches and stands still. The human pushes, and shoves and swears and doesn‘t understand why the horse does not yield at all but pushes into the pressure of the human‘s hand. 
In this case, it‘s a horse I know quite well because I‘ve trained her. I know how sublty and how willingly she will react - if the human asks politely.

I find it astonishing how humans demand respect and good manners (of animal and fellow humans equally), but especially with horses we fail to live up to our own expectations and act like dumb, drunk idiots who forgot their good upbringing. Plus, we then are dumbfolded if the horses reacts adequatly to our rude behavior meaning he ignores or fights us. Which we interpret as disrespectful and hit him. We punish him for our own imcompetence. This drives me nuts. 

I‘ve experienced it over and over again: If the horse responds to our question with opposition, we posed the question wrong. Usually, we go in with way too much pressure and we up it way too fast. The horse is not able to tune in mentally and his only way out is to resist. But if we‘d start out with less than we thought it takes, many problems and issues won‘t even arise at all.