Most of the horse owners I have met describe their horses as their dearest friends, but very few actually interact with their horses in a way which supports this claim. When I meet with a friend over a cup of coffee, I begin by checking up on him. I am concerned his well-being and sympathise with his troubles. It is only after we have completed these courtesies that we may, on some occasions, use the time together for something productive.
In my work with horses, I always keep the analogy of meeting a friend for coffee at the front of my mind. I begin by ensuring that his well-being is considered in his daily care and he is allowed to live as naturally as possible. In many cases, behavioural issues are caused by unnatural stresses in a horse's living environment. Such stresses affect different horses in different ways and so living environments which are suitable for some horses are not necessarily suitable for all horses.
It is only after I have identified and corrected as many stresses in the horse's environment as can feasibly be managed, that the time comes to do any correctional work with the horse himself. As you would offer advice to a friend, I present the owner and the horse with alternative handling techniques and responses in order to correct the behavioural problem. It is important to be clear about what we want from our horses, as well as having a good understanding of why we are not seeing the behaviour that we want. By considering every aspect of and influence on the behaviour, and by working with the owner at every stage of the process, I can help you to find long-lasting behavioural solutions that are manageable for you and your yard.
© Alan Lockwood 2014