"Riding well requires that we put the horse first." Anna Blake, Author and Equestrian
Reminder: Horses are not bicycles. Mounting up for a trail ride is not the same as jumping on a dirt bike and taking off solely for your own enjoyment. Every horse ride equals you plus another living, breathing being that should be respected as such and made to feel safe in a scary world.
In past stories, I’ve recommended some excellent horse training video bloggers whom I follow faithfully. Last week, however, I had a quick riding question that I just randomly put into the search line and was appalled at the suggestions and demonstrations that were offered. Like all of social media, YouTube brings out the best and worst humanity has to show for itself.
My go-to horse heroes have such gentle and imperceptible leg and hand cues, along with soft voice cues. They rely mostly on their seat and balance to communicate with their horse, so I was shocked to see how loud other so-called experts were with all of their riding aids. Many of them were so unnecessarily and cruelly LOUD by yanking on the reins, kicking viciously, barking commands; I could see the bullied and fearful compliance in their horses and the silent cry for help in the whites of their eyes. I have never clicked more quickly out of YouTube.
When my kids were teenagers I learned quickly that they could block out yelling and nagging, but if I barely whispered they would be overcome with curiosity and strain to hear what I was saying. There’s a reason for the term “horse whisperer.” Horses learn, respond and remember much better in a place of quiet safety, not a place of loud violence. We need to let them know we will protect them, not beat up on them.