Saturday, June 16, 2012
As a horse trainer people contact me most often because their horse has a hole in it; at least that's what I call it; they normally just say that the horse has a problem but to me that means holes. This is to say that for whatever reason in the horses life there is an area or areas where the horse is unpredictable, unreliable and/or exhibiting behavior that is either making the owner's experience uncomfortable to whatever extent or the situation is flat-out dangerous. There is, by the way, always a reason for holes in horses so let's keep in mind that these holes, in the majority of cases, don't simply come from nowhere. And, of course, there is no reason for a horse owner to contact a horse trainer if the horse is not expressing those unwanted behaviors. There are naturally horses that are tried and true; horses without holes or at least, over the duration of that particular horses life, the holes have been addressed and dealt with. These horses are often referred to as bomb-proof horses and usually they are older horses - or - someone has trained the horse without leaving holes.
There are many reasons why a horse ends-up with holes. Maybe their training was not thorough or complete and the trainer didn't understand how to look for and address holes, maybe the horse had to develop unacceptable behaviors as a result of having to put up with owners that were themselves neurotic or uneducated regarding how to properly deal with horses, maybe the horse had been physically or mentally or emotionally abused so the horse develops defense mechanisms in order to deal with the situation. And there are many other reasons why horses end up with holes. My job as a horse trainer worth my salt is to help these horses and horse owners to find a way to re-program and/or re-train that area of the horse so that the hole no longer exists.
Most horses have holes or maybe I should say that many horses have holes. If your horse kicks, bites, spooks, refuses to be caught and haltered, won't load, causes difficulties when saddled or mounted, won't take the bit, is unruly or aggressive - you've got a horse with holes. Obviously the more holes a horse has the more unpredictable and dangerous that horse is to have around.
Many people don't see the horse clearly. I've been called to meet with many horse owners and for whatever reason the owner simply does not see the larger picture; their focus is concentrated on the horse alone. Invariably they say that the horse has this that or the other problem. The owner often times seems to be removed from the picture; as though the horse is existing in a world of his own and for this reason the horse has to be dealt with individually and without concern for his environment or for the daily contact the horse has with his environment and his owner(s). It is like attempting to help a troubled child without taking the child's environment and relationship with adults and other relevant factors in and around the child's household into consideration. Everything in and around the horse's world is impacting him in one way or the other.
I recently had a house guest from Europe and she was quite amazed at how well behaved and pleasant my horses are. According to her the horses she is used to being around in Germany are extremely difficult and unmanageable which, by the way, makes the entire experience of being around them stressful and unpredictable. It is amazing how many people live with such situations with their horses and don't think to remedy the problem.
If you live with and spend time with and ride a horse with holes do yourself a favor and find a trainer that can help you and your animal. Horses do not like living with holes because that means stress and fear for them and people most certainly are put under great pressure to get back from the ride alive when riding such a horse; I've seen that scenario a hundred times. Spending time with these remarkable animals can be an incredible experience and once we learn how to be with them and once we learn how to bring-out the very best in them we can have an experience with our horses that is nothing like dealing with a horse with holes.
I wish you happy trails and many, many horses without holes.
Thanks for listening,
Russell B. Hunston