Posted on Oct 27, 2014

Sandra is booked to do the half-time show at the Longview Rodeo in a few weeks, but one of her Liberty team, Disco, recently suffered a serious injury.  Hoping to still do the show, she asked me to step in at the last minute to help train its replacement.

The two horses needed to learn to work together, to follow each other’s cues. But the problems began almost immediately. Flirty was really missing Disco, and he had no interest in making a connection with the replacement horse, Hustle.

I struggled to make any headway with them, and it was Grandpa who finally pointed out that Flirty wasn’t the only one missing his partner. Since a horse will read and see through everything we are feeling – even when we try hard to mask it – I realized that it might be better if Sandra found another trainer.

So we transported the two horses to Briar Ridge to work with a new trainer there.  Patience and respect are both key when working with horses, but the Briar Ridge trainer tried to control them by using the whip as a weapon – rather than just as encouragement. She was trying to create a relationship between horse and trainer, rather than horse and horse. And it just wasn’t working…

So Sandra called me in to consult. And that’s when it occurred to me that the horses needed time to bond on their own, in their own time.  We decided to turn them out into the field together… and I’m happy to report that it seems to be working.

I watched their cues as they got to know each other, then I used those same cues to become their leader… not their boss.