What do you do with a horse refusing to go forward – or go any direction for that matter? People think of their horse balking as a sign that he’s dull or lazy or stubborn, but that’s just not the case. Natural horsemanship asks us to look deeper, to figure out why and understand what’s really going on.
Horses have three systems that operate in a specific order: the RESPECT system, the IMPULSION system, and the FLEXION system. A car’s engine also has three systems – air, fuel, fire – and if one system isn’t working, the engine won’t operate properly. So it is with horses too.
Correcting Horse Balking Behavior
If IMPULSION isn’t functioning, check the prior system – RESPECT. If you have a horse refusing to go, you need to get more respect from your horse. The very first level of Parelli natural horse training (Level 1) is about developing respect and eliminating opposition reflex. Through working with the horse on the ground using the Seven Games, and developing FreeStyle riding skills, the horse’s attitude improves because of the new level of communication, trust, and respect. Horse balking behavior really shifts in Level 2, which is about positive reflexes and includes many strategies for improving IMPULSION.
Getting the “Go” Part Right
Most people are told to kick a horse to go, which is ridiculous when you think about it from a horse’s point of view. Imagine if you were kicked in the ribs on the way to the dance floor…what would your attitude be towards that dance partner? Would you even want to go? By using four distinct phases of polite assertiveness with your horse, he can quickly become a willing partner, happy to take your lead rather than balking at every turn.
The moment your horse responds, release your legs, quit spanking, and go forward with him. If he stops or slows, repeat the phases again. Begin each time at Phase 1, and be prepared to go to Phase 4. Finally, be sure there’s enough ‘life’ in your body when you ride. Think about how fast you want your horse to go and bring up enough life in your body to simulate that…then let the squeezing, smooching and spanking support it. Your horse will learn very quickly how to get in tune with you.
Common Mistakes When Working To Correct Horse Balking Behavior
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