For the Rider

Push or Be Pushed


By Stevi Weissbach

It is such a common problem among nice people: the horse pushes the human, and the human doesn’t want to be mean, bossy, or tell the horse what to do. But is it really being mean? What if your horse was pushing on you to test your leadership skills? What if his survival instincts were telling him to check your skills, to be sure you have the ability to protect him and guide him when he is in danger.

Your horse needs proof that you are the leader that will keep him safe. If not, it will become his responsibility to make the decisions and run the show. Some horses enjoy running the show; others find it too stressful. In general, most horses in the world today can be safe and get more enjoyment in the world if you make the decisions.

A horse will test your abilities if he is in doubt. One thing he may do to test you by attempting to push you around. If you allow him to push you, he will think twice about your skills and his safety, and he might even enjoy pushing you around. Then your safety is at risk. If you ask him to move out of your space, he will either do so, or challenge you further and say, “Really? Do you mean it?” And if you want to be the leader he’s looking for, without hesitation you’ll say “Absolutely” because you know that you have w.i.t. (whatever it takes) to get him out of your space. Once he’s out and stays out, he will look at you honestly from a respectable distance, lick his lips and say “Wow! She’s good!”

Something very common is, when the horse says “Really?” the person will say “Well, I didn’t really mean it anyways.” So, next time he sees a boogeyman and you say, “It's just a garbage can” he won’t be sure to believe you because he has proof that you usually change your mind.

- Most horses have been taught to keep their hindquarters away from you, but do they keep their shoulder out of your space?
- Be aware of your feet. Did you back out of his space or did he back out of yours?hoofprint


About the author:

Stevi first ran into "Natural Horsemanship" a few years back, when she realized there is a more humane method to working around horses. Her sensitive Arabian cross responded to it immediately, and so has every other horse she has touched since. Stevi has worked with many different horses in a  variety of breeds, ages, attitudes and experience levels, and found that it isn't the horses that need the training... it's the people. This has been her "mission," to learn how to teach people how to communicate with their own horse. She does most of the lessons at Yemaya Horse Retreat in BC, Canada. Stevi hopes to share what she has learned, and is always working at improving our relationships and understandings for our equine friends. It doesn't matter if we don't get it right the first time or that we know how to respond to everything that our horse gives us. What matters is that we are focused on getting better, having more balance, patience, and kindness.
Some people who have left an impression on Stevi's life are: Sandra Wallin, T. Harv Eker, Pat Parelli, Ainsley Beauchamp, Linda Murray and Maxine Boulding.
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