brown horse on grass field

So what happens when you inherit the fear-based training of your horse?  What happens when you just can’t figure out what the problem is?  This horse is tense while working.  Is there some sort of pain causing this rigid body or is it emotional?

It seems that more and more I’m speaking with horses who have been trained through fear, not knowledge.  This leads to misunderstandings between them and their humans as well as frustration and anxiety for both and in purchasing or inheriting a wonderful soul trained in this manner it’s incredibly important to understand their minds and thinking at that point. 

Even in this day and age, believe it or not, there are still trainers who believe in breaking the Spirit.  There are still trainers who believe in making them do things instead of asking and way to many that punish them for the slightest imperfection which creates rigid bodies and fear.  Although horses trained in this manner can certainly go on to being Champions in their field I would ask “at what cost”?

When you purchase or inherit that wonderfully special horse you want to take to the top of competition hoping to be the best of the best and instead you get a horse who seems to freeze when working –  a  horse who seems perfectly fine and relaxed on the ground but stiff in work you have inherited the training that has gone before.  You’ve inherited emotional baggage and disrespect and must find a way to correct it.  But how?

Fortunately, they are very clear and straightforward on what to do.  In conversation they speak of the training they have had in the past through fear or punishment for taking the least bit of a misstep or mistake which did, in fact, train them but not through knowledge.  They will ask for their training to take steps back, go back to the beginning if you have to, and completely training them through knowledge.  Train them to understand and learn what it is you are asking of them. 

More importantly, they ask the for understanding and assurance.  They need more than anything assurance from you and their trainers that “it’s ok if you make a mistake, you don’t have to be perfect” .  You really can’t over-assure them at this point and encouragement when they do a great job.  

Horses who have been trained through fear and not knowledge are always waiting for the other shoe to drop, they are always waiting for that correction that causes fear.  When you give them a chance to understand that they don’t have to be perfect, it’s okay because we will work through it, it changes their lives.  

They will tell you that when you are in a situation of dealing with a horse trained through fear you are hitting a brick wall and all of your time, effort, money and training will not change that.  You will not get through that brick wall unless you understand them and change the way you are working with them.  So many horse lovers and owners will know exactly what it feels like to put so much energy, emotion and money into a horse and feel like you are getting nowhere and hitting a brick wall.  When this happens, you may very well be in the presence of a wonderful soul who has been trained through fear, not knowledge.

The most important part is to hear them and understand what their fear is.  You can’t train what you don’t know and each horse is different and individual.  To some trainers this may be a no-brainer but to so many people who are currently in the situation of hitting that brick wall and not understanding what is happening or what to do about it, it’s devastating.   If we just listen to them, we can work through it.  We can always work through it.  Communicating with them is key, of course.  But, if for some reason you either don’t have that option, although you can always connect with me through Shirleymerrill.com, or don’t believe it it, at least you will have the understanding of how to help a horse who has been trained through fear and an understanding of how to get around that brick wall!




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