If you watch any herd of horses you will see that there is always a leader. This horse appears to be the smartest, strongest and most fearless one in the herd. It decides who eats where and who hangs out with whom and leads the rest of the herd into and out of the pasture. Because horses are very herd-oriented animals, you must become the leader when you take that horse away from the group. Even if you only own one horse…you must be the leader. There are several reasons for this. The most important reason is that a horse gains confidence from his leader and in order for a horse to behave he must feel safe. When left to his own devices he will take matters into his own hands and you may not like the outcome.
Because of his lack of confidence in you he may become spooky, or want to turn around and run home. Secondly, if you are not the leader, your horse will be. It’s the natural pecking order. If you are not the leader, he will treat you like the horse below him in the herd. He may get pushy, moving you around, bumping into you, rubbing his head on you and when you go out on a ride choosing to go in whatever direction he pleases. There are so many problems that arise from lack of leadership on the human’s part. A horse that never was spooky may begin to be. He can become hard to catch.
A horse that neck reined well suddenly can become hard to steer. Maybe he starts pinning his ears when you approach or trying to aggressively grab his food away from you during feeding time. A horse that used to ride out fine alone, all of a sudden may become barn sour. So before you do anything with your horse you need to establish this leadership. Please also understand that true leadership is different from “I the boss”. At times, a boss lacks empathy for those he is bossing and at times loses respect for his subject.
A true leader will take into consideration the thoughts and feelings of his followers and draw them to follow, by offering security and making good decisions.If a person truly masters leadership in his/her equine relationship, I guarantee that he or she will develop a more solid base of people skills as well. Get ready for a deeper connection with your horse and your people.