From a Whisper to a Scream.


“Stop nagging him!” If I am not yelling, I am certainly speaking in a loud, firm voice. How did it come to this? The answer is easy; I need to rescue a horse from a long-winded abuse of kindness.

Let’s start at the beginning;  loving horses is fine,  but they don’t care about that. Horses will choose clarity over love every time. Understanding herd dynamics is crucial for a  rider; to partner with a horse, we have to share a (non-verbal) language. Respect is their primary herd language, learned from Mom on their first day.  So, step one for a rider is to give up speaking English and learn the language of horses.

The situation that has given rise to this rant was watching a series of various riders try to get their horses moving forward. Kicking (nagging) a horse every stride trains him to be dull and deaf, then riders become stiff and frustrated. Nagging is a sure path to mutual despair.

There is a  misnomer about horse whispering—you don’t always whisper. Instead of bickering with your horse, be a kind leader and stop threatening him with the whip—stop repeating the cue. When there is time for him to process, the apparent deaf-ness goes away. He will be grateful for the time to breathe and you can find a smaller cue. Then ride on happily as if it never happened, without a grudge.

Nagging your horse into a stupor is a kind of abuse; it insults both parties. A horse is a proud, intelligent partner, and if you ask him simplicity and with patience, he will cooperate. The kind thing to do is trust his intelligence and respect him enough to ask consistently for his best.

Horses have always been my best teachers, requiring a perceptive level of asking and listening. One horse had a  habit of kicking me in the arch of my foot if  I  over-cued him. Right. On the other hand, if he was being lazy, I would pause, half-halt, and ask again. The horse would exhale and let me know it was fair. It was his way of saying I might be ambition-impaired but I am not stupid. Right, again.

Anna Blake,


This blog is free, and it always will be. Free to read, but also free of ads because I turn away sponsorships and pay to keep ads off my site. I like to read a clean page and think you do too. If you appreciate the work I do, or if your horse does, consider making a donation.

Anna Blake

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