Testing, testing....1, 2, 3
If your horse could talk, what would he or she say?
I'm not talking about getting an animal communicator out to tell you your horses darkest secrets, I mean good old-fashioned body language! Unfortunately I think this sometimes gets lost in translation! There is a pic going round the internet lately of a showjumper with his groom and the point of the story is that she never goes anywhere without treats for the horse, however, the horse has more gear on it than a tack shop! Now the point of this post is not to discuss that photo to a great extent, or the people related to it, however, I do want to point out how the horses eye looks.
Unfortunately for them, they can't speak to us in our language and say "hey that hurts" or "don't do that it's uncomfortable" but imagine what your horse would say if he had the microphone for a day? We don't always get it right, but it's important that we try and translate what they are trying to tell us in their own language. More often than not, a horse will show 'behavioural' issues when in fact they are trying to tell us something else. Now yes, I do agree that a horse can have a learned behaviour.....like its learnt that when it rears, it can not only evade work but ditch its rider at the same time....that's a pretty cool trick to keep doing right?? However, I see a lot of people making soreness issues, behavioural issues. Probably the most common one I see is "Oh, he's ALWAYS been girthy, that's just him"
Just because a horse has ALWAYS done something, does not make it right or normal. Chances are he has probably ALWAYS had ulcers for example.
If your horse has just suddenly started bucking into a canter transition, he's probably trying to tell you its hurting. If he's started picking up the wrong lead on one rein when he usually gets it right...… chances are he's uncomfortable somewhere. Even down to walking away from you in the paddock when you're trying to catch him suddenly....he probably isn't enjoying his work at the moment for some reason or he just needs a break! So often I can see a horse for bodywork just ONCE and get reports back from the owner saying he's stopped bucking or he's getting the right leads again. They have muscles just as you do, so remember, if you're riding more than usual or training harder for something and you start to feel achy in places, then guess what? He probably is too!
So my challenge to you this month is to observe your horse closely. Watch his ears, eyes, body...….how is he relating to you, and do you think he has something important to say??