Thursday, May 16, 2013

Expanding on the concept of Trust

Trust is an interesting thing in the horse human relationship. I believe that there is a bit of a misunderstanding with regards to the word “trust” and its role in the relationship that can be a contributing factor to human fear. Understanding horse behavior is key to a good relationship. Trust is something that you are building within your horse. You are, over a period of time, working to create a horse that believes you to be a trustworthy leader.  The only being in the relationship who we are concerned with their “trust” is the horse. He either trusts, or does not trust, the human. He either acknowledges you as a worthy leader, or he does not. As a person, our job is to be an effective and trustworthy leader. This is what must happen for our horse to feel safe and to be a willing partner.  What we sometimes perceive as “trust” in our horse, is simply that over time, he has learned to trust humans, and therefore we can more likely rely on or predict his response to a given situation. 

I do not advocate blanket trust in a horse. Many injuries and scary events come from placing undue trust in a situation. It is not mean to not trust a horse. It doesn't have to have the charge that we normally associate with something being untrustworthy. It simply isn't the same meaning when we are talking about horses. When you are working with a horse, as leader, it is your job to trouble shoot, problem solve and give assurance. That ability comes from developing a solid understanding of horse behavior and having a keen eye and a critical mind. These are all things that combined make what we often refer to as common sense.

What I will say, is that in many instances I have been saved from harm by a horse with whom I have a strong relationship and connection.  I believe that this is largely due to a healthy perspective on and understanding of the horse/human relationship and the type of wonderful partnership and companion it creates.