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Human Equine Relationship Development

Written by Tamara Svencer

H.E.R.D -2-H.E.R.D

Human Equine Relationship Development

Copyright © 2010 Tamara Svencer

ISBN: 978-0-557-62854-4

All rights reserved. No part of this publication can be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other – except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the author.

Human Equine Relationship Development


H.E.R.D -3-

“This book is dedicated to my children, Elliott,

Laurel, Jacob, & Richie who have taught me how

to believe in my own dreams and remind me

daily that dreams really do come true.”

Human Equine Relationship Development


H.E.R.D -4-Thank you too Miss Bella, may you be forever free.

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -5-Table of Contents


1 Quiet Confidence......................................16

2 Looking for a Leader...............................36

3 Touch Me Teach Me Trust ......................74

4 Lead Me Through My Fears.....................86

5 Up, Down, Back, Forward, Side to Side......124

6 Ground Control.......................................136

7 Ride With Me Not Against Me...............157

8 Buying The Right Horse.........................173

9 The Promise............................................196

10 Aggression............................................208

11 Spoiled Rotten.......................................232

12 What Every Horse Should Know..........241

In Closing..................................................................272

Human Equine Relationship Development



“Why would I ever want a horse to be like

me? I would rather aspire to be more like the

horse – honest, strong, faithful, intelligent beyond

reason, and dependable beyond belief.”

Tamara Svencer

Human Equine Relationship Development



Dealing with horses makes you a better

person. I thank God for my horses as they have

developed my character in so many ways. They

have taught me patience. They have taught me the

ability to just be still and know. They have given

to me the strength inside and out to deal with a lot

of my own personal issues. They have

undoubtedly taught me all forms of the word

“balance” and for that I am eternally grateful.

Being with horses is not all about getting

on their backs and riding, it is so much more than

that. Some of the best times I have had with

horses has been from the ground just bonding.

There is a natural attraction to the horses

freedom, it's beauty, its undeniable grace that

draws us towards it. It is hard to put into words

exactly what the attraction to this animal is. It

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -8-has a certain quality that lets us embrace all that

we wish we were.

My goal is to educate others through my

own experiences. In the horse world experience is

something to be coveted. The more experience

you get the better of a horse-person you will be.

The thing that you should keep in mind is that all

experience is important, not just time spent in the

saddle. Sometimes the time we spend grooming

or just sitting watching our horses accomplishes

more than an hour long ride. The true key to

success here is bonding with our animal. A

natural bond will form that will strengthen every

aspect of our relationships with our horses.

This book is for all horse people. I wish

that all newcomers could get a copy of this book

before getting into the task of horse ownership

and training. I think even advanced

horsemen/horsewomen will benefit from

understanding that the relationship one has with

their horse must be built, like anything else, upon

a good foundation. A solid foundation will effect

how we act and react to all of the ups and downs

that come along the way.

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -9-To me training is not an activity solely

participated in by the horse. Training is a two way

street, you must both be learning about each other

for this relationship to progress. The reward of

communicating with a horse in a natural way they

understand will result in a horse that will surpass

your expectations, as well as move you along in

your own abilities. You are holding a conversation

with the horse not lecturing him.

Horses are not only excellent students,

they are superior teachers. My horse has taught

me about patience, discipline, strength, and

endurance. She has taught me to never give up

and to push through the pain, heat, snow and rain

not only physically but also emotionally. She has

taught me what "heart" means and for this I will be ever grateful.

I ask only that you approach these pages

with an open mind. My approach is one that takes

control of the horse from the inside out. If you can

get her to give you her trust and her heart there will be nothing she will not do for you.

Many people approach horses with a

preconceived notion of what will happen. Some

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -10-have spent time riding horses from riding stables,

or watched a lot of western movies. Horses from

riding schools are often so "desensitized" to

dealing with different people and situations that

they are docile and stable mounts.

This is great opportunity for those that like

to ride a weekend or two out of a month. It will

help build up a shaky riders confidence. But

please remember most horses are not like horses

from riding stables. This is a really important

thing to consider when purchasing your own

horse. Most horses come with a few "quirks".

Some are spooky, some are fearful, some bite,

some kick, some run off, some rare up, some don't

move at all, some even like to go in reverse.

If you have a mental picture of buying a

horse, jumping on its back and riding off into the

sunset at full gallop your first time out,

understand that this is probably more fantasy

than fact.

Before you go any farther, just drop all of

your preconceived notions of what a horse can

and cannot do. Forget everything you have been

told and approach this animal with a totally fresh

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -11-mindset. Open your mind to a whole new world of

possibilities that you can achieve with a loving,

well balanced relationship with what I believe to

be the most wonderful of all of God's creatures.

I am not writing this book to be a “how to”

training manual. There have been so many of

those written. You can learn the technique of

training a horse to lead, tie, and accept a rider

from one of those, as there are many great books

available on that subject matter.

This book is more of a foundation builder

for your entire equine relationship. It will teach

you the “why” factors that motivate and control a

horse from birth. Horse sense and human sense

are completely different. I want to bridge the gap

and give you a better way to communicate with

your horse to build a stronger more humane


Horses do not speak the English language.

Think about that for a moment. Your horse does

not sit around thinking in words like you do. They

don't have a spoken language. Therefore their

thoughts are not in words. That is a really hard

concept to take a hold of mentally for a human

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -12-because that is the way we have always done


We think, and we think in words. We

convey what we are thinking about by producing a

sound that other humans can understand to mean

a certain object or concept. Imagine that you

didn't have a word for the object we call tree or

the feeling we call love. How would you describe

them with out words? Through actions, and that

is how the horse speaks. He does not speak in

English, Spanish or Dutch but he speaks in action

and energy.

You have to start thinking and acting more

like the horse for him/her to start to understand

you. They understand action and energy. They

don't understand a word that you are saying. They

only understand the tone in which it is spoken

and the energy with which it is delivered. A sharp

“quit it” conveys disapproval. A gentle “good girl”

conveys acceptance. They only understand the

energy and actions associated with our words.

You will learn you can speak to a horse without

every actually speaking a spoken word.

For this reason it is silly to have lengthy, in

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -13-depth conversations with your horse as if they are

participating in a conversation with you. It may

make you feel better but the horse only hears

something like “blah, blah blah blah, blah, blah

blah blah”. Learning to focus on the energy and

emotions we are displaying will allow you to

remove the words from the equation. You can

have silent, very productive conversations with

your horse that he will understand completely.

If you sat for 12 hours a day observing your

horses you would find that the horses are silent

for about 11 hours and 45 minutes of that time.

You may occasionally hear one horse call out to

another in moments where they are on the move

and have lost visual sight of each other but other

than that, its pretty quiet. They are in fact though

constantly speaking to each other through body


This is the sole way a horse will

communicate most of his needs and desires. He

talks with his body and the energy he is displaying

to other horses around him.

Any relationship that we enter into must

possess strong communication skills to be

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -14-successful. You see that marriages often fail after

this breaks down because communication is so

valuable in conveying our wants, needs and

desires. It can not be one sided, that is just

unreasonable and unbalanced.

A horse is a very honest and reasonable

animal. His communication is open and

straightforward. He isn't sneaky and his feelings

are not hidden. If you take a little bit of time and

energy to understand how he speaks you will

bypass all of the headaches of trying to teach him

how to think and speak like a human.

Trust me this is the much easier and more

rewarding way of doing things. It is also the most

natural and easily accepted method by the horse.

It builds a working relationship that is filled with

success and satisfaction.

Human Equine Relationship Development



Working with any animal can be a

dangerous activity, always make sure you practice

safe horse handling. Wear the appropriate

protective gear as well as always let someone else

know where you will be at and what you will be

doing. Due to the size and strength of a

horse, injuries can be sustained easily.

Always use your best judgment in working with

horses, and if you feel uncomfortable with an

activity or a behavior issue consult a professional

horse trainer to aid you.

Human Equine Relationship Development


H.E.R.D -16-Chapter 1

Quiet Confidence

There is one tool that any person needs to

have in order to successfully work with horses. It

is a tool that is of more importance than any other

tool that you may possess. You cannot buy this

tool at a feed store or order it online. It is a tool

that will make all other tools of the trade more

useful. And without it all other tools useless. That

tool is confidence. A sort of fearlessness in the

face of an animal that could very easily hurt you at

best, and kill you at worst.

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -17-A horse by nature does not really

communicate its wishes through verbal

commands. They do on occasion let you know

what they are about to do by whinnying or

neighing, but for the most part they speak to each

other through body language. I want to address

the fact that when you step into their world your

body language will do the speaking for you. You

need to learn what they are saying and be able to

anticipate what they are about to do. The more

fluent you become in speaking their language the

easier and safer your horse experiences will


A horse is a prey animal. It survives

through picking up on the slightest signals around

it. It is also a great reader of things unseen. They

have a sixth sense of sorts, filtering in information

from between the lines, as well as directly. When

you venture into their space they are picking up

on so much more than what you are doing. They

can sense what you are feeling. They have a

sponge like ability to absorb what you are feeling

especially anxiety. It is very important to

remember that when you are feeling nervous or

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -18-anxious so is your horse. This signals to your

horse that they need to be ready to flee because

danger is around.

Unfortunately they do not understand that

to a person who lacks confidence they are often

the danger that is around. So whenever you are

going to interact with your horse or any horses for

that matter, you need to really be aware of the

feelings you are projecting onto them. You need a

quiet confidence, a sense of relaxed energy, that

will allow them to remain calm in your presence.

And over time you will develop this quiet

confidence more and more.

What do I mean by quiet confidence? Well

quiet confidence comes from a sense that you

truly know that everything around you is alright

and that you are in control of the situation. It

speaks of a true leadership state of mind. That is

what a horse is looking for, a true leader. If you

want to have a natural leadership role with your

horse, this is the key, quiet confidence. When you

see people yelling and screaming at their horses

teetering on the edge of abusing them into doing

what they want, they are reacting out of fear or

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -19-anger. Fear and anger do not make for good

leadership qualities. Horses understand that

when you are out of control you can not control


Before you can have control of your horse,

you must be able to control yourself. The horse

knows this and you should learn it before going

any further. Focus on understanding that with a

horse fear is a sign of weakness or danger. Weak

people do not lead horses, weak people get pushed

around by horses. When a horse senses fear it also

can become nervous and ready to flee for safety.

When a horse does not respond to something you

want it to do and it makes you angry you need to

take a mental timeout. Horses do not lead

through anger. Horses lead in one way and one

way only - quiet confidence.

Confidence is not something you can just

get either. It is learned, built upon, and grows. It

takes time to get the confidence you need to be a

true leader in all situations.

The whole idea of natural horsemanship

has taken off to a great extent in recent years. It

has helped put some of the archaic and outdated

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -20-training techniques to rest and for this I am

thankful. Just like any new idea that comes along,

it has been over marketed and milked for every

single penny it can produce. People have slapped

the “natural horsemanship” label on everything

from books to gear in order to sell it more quickly.

I am not a natural horsewoman. I am just a

woman who seeks to have a very balanced and

productive relationship with my horse. In fact if I

wanted to be a natural horsewoman I don't think I

would ever place my rump in a saddle. My horses

would be left running free on open ranges and I

would never subject them to the training, fences,

trailers, and shows I so often do. Everything

humans do for the most part with and too their

horses is unnatural. Calling it natural doesn't

make it that way.

Whatever I can do to learn more, I will.

And whenever I can help teach someone else

something that will aid them in developing a

deeper relationship with their horse, I will.

I hope by the end of this book you will have

learned something and moved forward in the

understanding that a horse is not just a beast.

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -21-They are very intelligent, very perceptive, very

able creatures that I feel every human can call

their partner.

The relationship you have with your horse

is much like the relationship you share with

people in your lives. To have a successful

relationship of any kind it must be a working

relationship. It must continually be growing and

as it grows it will strengthen itself naturally. It

must also be a balanced relationship. The start to

having a balanced relationship with your horse is

to understand that a horse is a horse and not a human being. That is the beginning to having a

fulfilling experience that makes both parties


Human beings have this inner need to

humanize animals and other "things" that inhabit our lives. We assume that animals think and react

like people through spoken words. I have heard

many people referring to their horses as if the

horse was just another human. I want you to

understand that a horse speaks a different

language, feels different emotions, and is very non


Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -22-I think the world may be a better place if

people were a little more like horses and a little

less like people. And that is the key here, be more

like a horse instead of forcing the horse to be

more like a human.

The biggest mistake most people make

with their horses is to "love" them too much. It isn't hard to love a horse. It is really easy in fact to

develop a very deep emotional attachment to it. I

want you to love your horse. I want you to love

your horse so much that you make unselfish

decisions when it comes to their development.

Spoiling a horse in the name of love only

benefits the owners own need to feel loved by the

horse. But horses do not "love" people in the

sense than humans love one another. Yes they can

become very attached to their human

companions. They become bonded in a way that

resembles human love. But it is not the same.

When you truly love your horse you will

understand that you must make every effort

possible to bring forth a well mannered and

obedient animal.

Chances are that you will not own your

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -23-horse for the entirety of its life. Things change so

rapidly in our lifetimes. People lose jobs, they

need to relocate, get new jobs, have children,

become physically unable to care for their horses.

Many things can happen that will result in you

needing to find a new home for your horse. A

horse that is well mannered, submissive, and

obedient will go on to have a long and well-lived


It is horses that have been spoiled in the

name of love that develop the multitude of

undesirable behaviors that will dwindle their

chances at finding a good home. And even worse

your beloved friend could end up at a stock sale

being shipped to Canada or Mexico to have their

lives ended in a cruel and unimaginable way.

It is a sad but truthful reality that as the

economy has dwindled in recent years we find far

too many horses left in a state of homelessness.

Many people who loved their horses have had to

make the ultimate decision on the welfare of their

animals and surrender them to others so that they

can be cared for adequately. There are so many

horses and not enough quality places for them to

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -24-live right now. Many horses have ended up in the

hands of horse traders, or less than perfect living

arrangements. Only the good horse who is useful

to man will find a place in this world to live a nice

quality life. Horses that have issues are often the

first to be sent off to the sale.

So if you truly love your horse, you will be a

strong leader. Leading your horse in a way that

will produce a balanced animal will insure him a

place in the human world for many years to come.

I ask you to put aside your own needs and

consider your horses long term needs. Spoiling

your horse will not gain you anything other than a

lot of problems or worse injuries.

I want you to understand what I mean by

spoiling. Anything you do with your horse needs

to have a few simple boundaries. You need to

maintain a space around you. You can envision a

bubble of sorts - it expands out about 1 or 2 feet

around you - this space is yours and the horse is

not to enter it. (When we look at the lead mare behavior in the next chapter you will learn more

about why this is so important)

You can pet your horse, in fact I feel

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -25-touching your horse all over his body is an

excellent way of gentling him/her. You can offer

your horse treats on occasion as long as it is done

in moderation and at the correct time. People

tend to think that because a horse comes rushing

over to the fence to see them, somehow they have

created a special connection with their horse. The

horse will always come running to the fence if it is

given treats for showing up. They come running to

see the treat not you.

I want to show you that the horse can come

running from a true bond to you, not because he

is bribed into behavior. You need to remember

that everything you do should be done in

moderation which will end in balance.

Balance is not something only needed in

the saddle. Balance must exist in every aspect of

horsemanship. Imagine a scale if you will on the

left hand side you see the opposite of spoiling, you

see neglect and abuse. It is easier to picture this

end of the spectrum in your mind. On the left we

have the abusive owner who try's to beat

submission into his animal and neglects to even

care for its basic needs of food, shelter and water.

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -26-Now look to the right hand side of the

spectrum and you will see the polar opposite of

the bad side. You see the owner who allows the

horse to dominate and dictate to him/her what is

going to happen. On this side the owner pops in

every once in awhile with sugary treats and over

indulges the animal. Soon the horse is nipping at

his owners' pockets and dragging him around by

the lead rope or worse kicking them out of

disrespect or being uncontrollable in some other

way. You need to be somewhere directly in the

middle of this scale. You need to maintain

balanced and fair treatment of your horse through

quiet confidence.

A horse is a simple animal. You can show

your horse "love" by giving him/her proper

nutrition and as much clean drinking water as

they can drink. You can show love by feeding him

grain twice a day, giving him a good supply of hay,

and a nice pasture to graze upon. You can show

them love by keeping their stall clean, and

keeping their bodies clean through proper

grooming. You can show them love by providing

proper veterinarian care and keeping them pest

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -27-free. You can show them love by scratching under

their chin or in any other place they can't

normally reach. This is a horses happy place,

being cared for and being provided for. This type

of love will benefit your horse for many years to

come and will produce a pleasant animal to work

and play with.

The key is to find balance, where both

parties are happy and content with the

partnership. If the horse isn't happy you are too

far to the left. If you are not happy you have

drifted too far to the right. If you stay in the

middle everyone will be content.

It is human, not horse beliefs, that dictate

that we must buy affection. I told you earlier to

think more like the horse. They don't care if you

are spending lots of money on new halters and

bridles. They don't care that you took a loan out to

have a better horse trailer than your neighbor.

The true connection that will bond you tightly to

your horse doesn't cost anything but time.

Humans somehow try to make up for not

enough time spent by placing a monetary band-

aid on the shortcoming. You cannot buy your way

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -28-to control. You must put in the effort and the time

needed to make the connection and the

connection can only be made through confident


In the horse world there are two types of

social roles, a leader and a follower. If you take a

look out in your own field you will see that there is

only one true main leader and the rest filter in

behind them. Number 2 horse will follow number

1 but she will also lead number 3. Number 3

follows number 1 & 2 but leads number 4. There

are no two number 2 ranking horses, it is a single

file line that leads all the way down to the lowest

member of the society. They all bow down to

number 1 and number 1 submits to no one. Your

job is to study number 1 and learn about how she

leads with quiet confidence.

Confidence is something that comes from

the inside and extends out into our physical being.

It is a feeling of collected self awareness. You feel

powerful therefore you are. Maybe you are

fortunate and are a naturally confident person,

then your task is going to be easier. Be sure that

your confidence is not actually arrogance.

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -29-Arrogance is actually the lack of true confidence.

It comes from feeling inadequate and trying to

over compensate by puffing oneself up. Horses

can call this bluff easily. Arrogance and horses

will add up to injury or worse death.

The horse will look for a confident leader.

You need to stand with confidence, move with

confidence, breath with confidence. You need to

personify confidence. I want you to stand up tall

and move like a mountain around horses. In your

mind you ball up all of that strong energy and you

move right through them instead of wavering

around them. If they are in your way, you make

them move out of your way.

Time will prove to you as you apply this

simple state of mind that the horse will respond

naturally to you and move as you will them too.

You must be very clear and focused in your

thinking as to exactly what you want them to do

and then apply just enough energy to make it

come true.

There will be times when you may face a

horse that has more confidence than you. In these

instances you will need to make sound judgments

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -30-on how you proceed. Training an animal with

more confidence than you can be dangerous.

Ask yourself if this horse is really more

confident, or is he more afraid? Are his actions

based on dominance or fear? You need to study

this horse and see if you can learn something from

it. Remember horses are our teachers and they

have mimicked their way to where they are. Study

his/her confidence and then do just that, mimic

their behavior, but always be safe.

I want you to really develop this confidence

around horses. Become consciously aware of what

you are projecting at the horse. Be aware of what

you are feeling before you go through the gate. Be diligent in your pursuit of this quiet confidence.

You can spend thousands of dollars

attending a seminar or clinic on horse training to

learn how to train horses. You can go out and

spend hundreds of dollars on new training aids or

even thousands on a new round pen to do your

training in. All of it will be money wasted if you

don't have the confidence to lead the horse. You

cannot fake it. You cannot buy it. You must

develop it. It is free except for the time you spend Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -31-building it. It is invaluable.

There are many horse owners who have a

fearful relationship with their own horses. Being

fearful is the main mistake people make with ther

horses. Being even the slightest bit nervous

around a horse will put you in the subordinate

seat. You will not get results in your training. You

will have a very flat and unsatisfying relationship

if you base it on fear.

I want to suggest to those that are afraid,

even in the slightest, of their own horse that they

go out and buy a whip. You may never even need

to use it. It is more a tool to help you feel safe and

more confident. Get out your lunge whip if you

want. Carry it in your hand when dealing with

your horse. I am not asking you to use it, I am

asking you to carry it. Sometimes the security of

knowing you have it will give your confidence the

boost it needs to start conversing successfully

with your horse. If a horse respects a lifeless stick

that only weighs ounces because it can produce a

slight sting on his rear, imagine how much more

respect you alone could have with the horse. Carry

your whip in hand until you feel safe in leaving it

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -32-behind. It is merely an aid to help you start to

understand that horses are not as big and bad as

some people believe them to be.

Before long you will understand just how

powerful you can be and just how submissive a

horse can be. You will also find that this new

confidence will filter out into the rest of your life.

You will walk a little straighter and be

bolder in what you do. You learn to be more aware

of the feelings you are projecting. Confidence will

attract the horses attention just like it does a


Remember confidence is not bullying.

Think back to when you were in school and there

were bullies. Usually a bully was just puffing

himself up and acting aggressively towards others

because he was afraid. A horse can tell when he is

being bullied and it will not have the lasting effect

that confidence will. You can bully a horse

sometimes but bullying will only get you so far.

I have seen lots of horse bullies and none of

them were horses. They have all been humans

trying to put on a show of strength. And that is all

it is, a show. The horse knows the difference

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -33-between bullying and confidence. Bullying comes

from inner fear, confidence comes from inner

strength. A horse will follow strength, he will flee

from fear. And keep in mind that if he can't flee

from the fear, he can as a last resort, act out in

protective aggression. Bullying a horse is a good

way to get hurt or killed.

I don't want you to fear your horse.

Sometimes it is easy to fear an animal that has so

much power and so much strength. His size alone

can easily make him dangerous but for the most

part a horse is a docile and timid creature.

He is also submissive and willing to be a

part of man's world. If he weren't he would simply

jump over the fence we have built to contain him

or bust through the barn door and set himself

free. He doesn't use his strength in the same

manner a human being would. He will if faced

with a life threatening situation, but for the most

part he is docile and timid.

That’s not to say it is a guarantee that your

horse will never assert itself over you physically.

He can and chances are he will, but it will be in

more subtle ways than stomping you to death.

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -34-Horses often “test” you to see if you are paying

attention. Subtle invasions of your role as leader

can add up to a mutiny, so be aware of what the

horse is saying to you at all times.

Try to replace fear with respect. Respect

the fact that he is large and you should proceed

with educated caution when handling him. Do

not irritate a horse or tease it. Do not provoke him

to prove a point to other humans. In fact leave all

your desires to impress people with your horse

skills at home. Concentrate on you and him and

the relationship you truly want to share.

Use common sense. Do not stand behind a

horse and taunt it to kick you to prove it won't.

You may get unlucky one day and try this with the

wrong horse. Show respect, not fear. After you

start to have a “safe” track record your confidence

will naturally grow and replace the fears you once


Human Equine Relationship Development


H.E.R.D -35-Five Steps To Confidence

Practice these 5 key ingredients to build your inner

confidence. Before long they will become like second nature.

1. Positive thinking

Positive thinking is the key to confidence. Thinking positively about yourself will help you project confidence. Think about all of the accomplishments you have made. Pat yourself on the back for having the courage to want to better your relationship. Reflect positive thoughts, and zap negative ones as soon as they enter your mind. Lose the phrase “I Can't” and replace it with “I Can.”

2. Setting Goals

Baby step your way along the path. Understand every step you make towards your goals is a step in the right direction. Set goals that are attainable. For instance set a daily goal. Today I want to work with my horse for 1 hour on leading correctly. Have a goal and reach it, if in a month you do this a few times, you will have spent several hours working with your horse. Instead of telling yourself this month I want to work 15 hours on leading and being overwhelmed. You take you biggest goal and break it down into daily baby steps.

3. Breathing techniques

Breathing is am essential part of relaxing and having confidence.

Take a nice deep breath and exhale. Repeat this process about 5

times and you will immediately start to feel more relaxed.

Confident people are relaxed people. Breathe in those deep breaths and exhale slowly anytime you may start to feel nervous.

4. Body language

Walk straight and tall. Don't slouch your shoulders. When you sit, sit straight. Start making it a point to have correct posture. You will instantly feel more alive and energized. You will look and feel more confident.

5. Mind management

Guard your mind and only allow positive thoughts to enter it.

Don't listen to other peoples negativity either. You can do anything you set your mind to. Don't always assume something is going to go bad, think like everything is going to go right and often it will!

Human Equine Relationship Development


H.E.R.D -36-Chapter 2

Looking For A Leader

Horses are an instinct driven being.

There are certain drives built into them naturally

that dictate their responses to certain situations.

They are a herd animal which means they have a

strong desire to be part of a group. The group

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -37-provides him with safety and safety is what a

horse desires most. A horse understands the herd

and it functions within its hierarchy to fulfill its

role within the herd. The herd is the "society" of the horse. The horse understands the dynamics of

this through natural instincts and learned

behavior. To understand the horse you must

understand the herd.

The herd to a horse provides safety and

survival. The more eyes, ears and noses filtering

in information the more chances there are to

detect danger. A herd of horses works as a

collective being, each member serving a particular

role to benefit the group as an entirety. The herd

is a a very complex society. To really understand

how to work with nature instead of against it, you must understand what is going on in this social


The horse although a large animal is a very

timid animal by nature. The main instinct that a

horse has is it's flight drive. When faced with

danger or perceived danger the horse will

instinctively flee. They will flee with enough force

to escape that particular threat and the it will

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -38-calm down and go right back to grazing. They live

in the moment. After a scary experience they are

not like humans, they don't recollect and talk

about it forever. Their thought process is

something like this fear=flight=safety=relaxation.

Very simple.

The fears that horses have seem rather silly

to us as human beings. It is silly that a 1400

pound animal is afraid of a grocery sack that has

gotten caught on the barbed wire fence of our

neighbor. To us its just a bag, to the horse it is

something that could eat him alive. Most of the

fears horses have are of the unknown. The fears

are mostly unwarranted but as their human leader

it becomes our job to lead them through these

imagined life or death situations with a tender but

fearless lead. Their battles are in their heads.

Once something moves from the scary list to the

safe list in their heads it stays there unless in the future it actually proves to provide harm to the


99% of the battles we will face in training

our horse to be a well adjusted animal will be in

their heads. You must control the mind to a

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -39-certain extent and where the mind goes the body

will follow.

There are two schools of thought when it

comes to training a horse. The more traditional

school believes that you control the body through

dominance and then the horse will give you its

mind. The newer school believes you harness the

mind naturally and then the body will follow suit.

Both will “work”. For many years man has

been taking a horse and beating it into

submission, it does work, but not because it is the

right way to do things. It works because a horse is

such a naturally submissive animal. It is taking

advantage of this submission that leads to the

worst kind of abuse.

You are “breaking” it physically in this

manner of training, giving it the choice to survive

by obeying. All of this whipping, tying, and

deprivation will produce a horse that can be

handled by humans. And for some humans this is

all they need.

I feel the new school of thinking and

training is superior to old school methods because

you work with nature instead of against it. You get

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -40-better more dependable results from the horse

because you are teaching him to trust you as his

leader, not to submit to you because you are a

tyrant. It is less work and stress for both the horse

and human to harness the mind first through

communicating in a way he/she will understand

and then baby stepping our way through the

basics. Eventually you will move all the way up

through advanced skills in a way that is not only

more humane but proves to build a better

foundation for a well balanced and truly

trustworthy animal.

You will see the word dominance a lot in

articles about horse training. I try to shy away

from using this word because the word

dominance creates visions of taking power

forcefully instead of being given power willingly.

You need confidence which will place you

naturally not forcefully in a state of dominance

over the horse. This sort of dominance is not out

of balance or abusive. It is only a word to express

your status as leader.

Dominance in animals is rarely abused by

the dominant animal. Humans are the only

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -41-animal that abuses the power of dominance.

People in positions of power can become

intoxicated by the rush of being in control and

sometimes they take their power to extremes that

exploit those beneath them. Animals do not do

that. They take dominance as a leadership role

solely and that gives them more responsibilities to

maintain the well being of those beneath them.

A dominant animal is there because it is in

the best interest of it's species to have the stronger

genes pasted on to future generations . They are

there because it is in the best interest of the herd

for survival to be lead by a confident and strong

animal who is willing to serve them in finding a

good food & water supply. It is all about survival

of the fittest and smartest. In mother nature

stupid and weak animals do not live for very long.

The lead mare is dominant, intelligent, and

able to fulfill the role. She will have “earned” her

spot by showing natural leadership qualities and

taking her spot at the top. So you won't see me use

the word “dominance” a lot. You will find I use the

word “confidence” because dominance to an

animal is something totally different than what it

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -42-is to a human.

When you think about this for awhile you

will start to understand that training has nothing

to do with jumping in a round pen and chasing a

horse until it is so exhausted it wants to drop

dead. It has nothing to do with whipping it

severely until it says “uncle”.

Training is simply a long series of exposing

a horse to something new and scary and then

moving that scary object or situation to the safe

list in the horses' head by confidently leading

them through it. After it has been moved to a

status of “safe” then the horse has the ability to

totally ignore that which they once thought would

kill them with ease. They are masters of just

simply moving on, they don't dwell on things.

So enters people into the horses life. I have

often wondered what exactly does the horse think

we are. A human being until proven otherwise is a

threat to the horse just like the bag on the barbed

wire fence. A horse that has not been handled by a

human sees us as something that has come to eat

it alive. He will run wildly around us trying

everything to escape this strange beast that walks

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -43-on two legs.

To a horse we smell funny and look angry

with our ears always pinned back. We make the

strangest noises and do the weirdest things. It

amazes me that the horse ever eventually submits

to man, but he will, given that the man proves to

be a non-threatening being after all.

Every horse starts somewhere. There is a

moment in all captive horses that changes the

direction of their lives forever. It is the moment

man enters into his world. For some they are born

into it and the touch comes shortly after birth. For

some they are pulled off of ranges and the touch

comes far later in life. But for any horse that man

wishes to use there will be a moment when man

enters into it's life. That moment will change the

life of that horse forever. Fortunate horses will be

handled correctly from the start and unfortunate

horses won't.

So you may ask what is the easiest way to

get inside of a horses head and handle him/her

correctly? Well the answer to that question can

only be answered by the horse. A horse is a really

honest animal. You need to learn the basics of

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -44-their language and when you learn this language,

you will understand how to communicate your

leadership to them.

Horses do not speak in words, they speak

in actions. I guess the closest scenario in humans

would be the sign language that a deaf person

uses to communicate. The horse gives a sign and

that signals a response from other horses. You can

give the same signs and get the same results. I

don't understand why they do it, but a horse will

accept a human sign the same way they accept a

horse sign.

Earlier we talked about the lead mare and

the fact that she rules the roost. I spoke to you

about the bubble around you and that your space

is not to be invaded. The lead mare has this space

and this space is what sets her apart from all the

other horses in a herd. You will notice that the

lead mare may enter any of the lower horses

spaces but they never just stroll into hers. If they

make that mistake she swiftly corrects it.

If you spend a day just sitting in the

pasture watching your horses, they will tell you

exactly what you need to do to be a true leader.

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -45-Paying close attention to what the lead mare does

will show you exactly what you need to do to be

leader of the whole herd. Getting the submissive

lower horses to follow your direction and give you

their respect by doing so becomes easy when you

watch what she does.

Horses show respect by following. Sitting

in the pasture all day may be boring to some as it

isn't much like the movies we see on TV. The

horses don't usually run around in slow motion,

showing affection to each other, with the wind

whipping wildly through their hair. No it is more

about the business of eating and resting. The lead

mare controls the food for the most part and it is

her job to move the herd to the best spots for

grazing. She determines when it is time to move

to the water and she will also be the first one to

drink. But all along the way, when she moves, the

others follow and mimic what she does. She

moves them, they do not move her.

When the lead mare comes out of the barn

the other horses move out of her way. When she

comes into the round bale to get some hay the

other horses move out of her way. This is not done

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -46-out of fear it is simply learned behavior that gives

the horse its structured and safe life. It is efficient

and effective. This is where we have to drop our

human way of thinking.

This lead mare is not a bully, although she

can deliver punishment for insubordination, she

is a fair leader. She will not normally go running

around bullying her herd. She leads them through

survival, she is not on a power trip. Every day, day

in and day out, she leads them to food, water and

shelter and keeps them from danger. If the lead

mare starts running, everyone starts running.

She leads and they follow. When you are

working with your horse, you should lead, and

they will follow. They understand this

relationship best. When we start letting them

invade our space, they become confused instantly,

and this mixed signal tells them that they are now

the leader. It is that simple. They are not into

complex emotional relationships like people. They

can't understand that when we come in and kiss

all over their faces and feed them a bag of carrots

that it is just done out of affection. Their ability to

get close to us says only one thing, we have

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -47-allowed them to invade our space, therefore they

are now the boss. The lead mare does not blur this

line. She has her space and everyone else is to stay

out of it.

All of the other "followers" will float in and

out of each others spaces. Horses higher up on the

totem pole will often move lower horses out of

their spaces. It all boils down to that space. If you

make a horse move out of your space, you are now

the leader. If he makes you move out of his space,

he is now the leader. That one thing may be the

most important piece of information you can

receive. You must maintain your space, then the

horse becomes the follower.

Exercises like "join up" are just this one

crucial bit of information in action. Through join

up you are telling the horse...MOVE OUT OF MY

SPACE...therefore you are now the leader. That is

why after a successful join up a horse will follow

you around like a puppy dog, zigging here, and

zagging there. I like the join up exercise but I feel

that through proper body language and action you

can get the same results just through everyday

interactions with your horse.

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -48-So lets go back to the pasture and lets look

at our horses. In the morning while it is cool they

are very busy grazing away, heads down nibbling

at the grass. They are relaxed. You see some tails

swishing at the occasional fly. Nothing too

spectacular is going on, everyone is just eating

breakfast until they hear you coming with the


All of a sudden there are the low grumbles

of neighs as they all run to their spot to be fed.

Here you will see the pecking order best defined

and here it is easiest to see who is truly boss. She

will eat first and can run any of the other horses

out of their grain. Horse second in charge can run

all of the other horses out except for the lead

mare. Horse third in command can run all other

horses out except for number 2 and number 1 and

so forth all the way down the line until you get to

the last horse in the order and she is usually just

lucky to eat a little bit before being run out.

So how do they move each other around?

Well it is a matter of confidence. First the horse

either has it or it doesn't. It is true horse power.

They don't pretend to be something they are not.

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -49-The lead horse is always the one with the most

confidence. It is not the biggest horse, it is not the

youngest horse, it is the most confident.

The leader of our herd is a 26 year old sway

backed quarter horse mare named Becky. She is

maybe 14.2 hands high. She is much smaller than

the second in command an 8 year old 16.5 hand

quarter horse named Maggie who probably has a

good 300 pounds on Becky.

The leader before Becky was an Arabian

named Bella who ruled the herd even though she

had a genetic disorder called cerebrum

abiotrophy. To the human way of thinking her

handicap would have dwindled her chances to

lead. It was her confidence and sheer moxy that

put her in as head honcho until she suffered a fall

and she had to be put down. Becky who was

number 2 rose to the occasion and she has been in

the lead ever since.

Size has nothing to do with it either. There

are herds that are being lead by ponies and even

miniature horses. The leader of the herd is there

out of pure confidence. She believes she is boss so

she is. And this is the example by which we as

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -50-humans must enter the horses' world. We must

believe it with all that we are, that we are at the

top of the order. No one will invade our space.

The horse will understand and respect this and

will be a lot more pleasant to work with. Because a

horse cannot follow a subordinate being, period.

It cannot and will not just because this goes

against all that the horse knows. If you are less

confident than I am, you must follow me. And vice

versa if you have more confidence than I do, I

must follow you. That is horse law, we cannot

rewrite it or change it, this is what they believe

and this is what has kept their society in order

and successful for many moons.

I didn't make this law, it is mother natures

law. I think this is the hardest concept for a

human being to accept and live out. Horses in real

life are not like horses in movies. In fact I think

that movies have done a lot of damage to what the

true horses' character is truly like. Many people

get into horses wanting a cinematic experience

and this does little more than set the person and

the horse up for a huge disappointment.

That is not to say you should not have a

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -51-loving relationship with your horse. I would be a

hypocrite if I sat here and told you to not love

your horse. Loving your horse becomes a natural

thing, but you need to love them enough to

understand who they are. I want you to surpass

the bond of superficial human affection and go

deeper. Bond with your horse as another horse

would bond, not a human being would. It is only

through this natural bond can you find the true

heart of the horse. This bond will unlock the true

potential of your relationship.

So unthink affection for a moment. To us

as humans contact and affection go hand in hand.

When we love something we want to touch it

constantly. We use all areas of our bodies to show

affection, we hold hands, rub backs, hug, and kiss.

These affectionate acts provide both the giver

and the receiver comfort. That is human affection

and it is only natural for us to assume that it is the

only type of affection.

Let us look back into our pasture and

watch our horses. The only type of contact

between horses that could be considered

affectionate would be the mutual grooming that

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -52-on occasion happens. You may witness one horse

gently nibbling on another horses neckline and

the favor being returned. Sometimes they stand

resting with there heads neck to neck. I call this

affection loosely because it resembles human

affection only, that does not mean it is affection. It could be more utilitarian in nature. I can't remove

the ticks and such from my hairline myself, so my

neighbor does it for me and I return the favor.

We do not witness much touching and

rubbing on a daily basis between horses. Mostly it

is everyone has a nice space to eat in, in the

afternoon we rest under the apple tree, and in the

evening we go graze some more. This to a horse is

the perfect life. They do not need the constant

affection that a human needs. Now I can hear

some of you right now, “well just because they

don't need it, doesn't mean they don't enjoy it”.

I think that it confuses them a lot. It mixes

up the situation and sends them signals that tells

them you are being submissive if done in the

wrong way. I want to say first that I think it is

important to touch a horse. I am a big supporter

of grooming because grooming mimics a horses

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -53-closest resemblance of affection. I think the horse

enjoys being in the relaxed energy of the human

more than the actual affection the person is trying

to give the horse.

Standing quietly in a relaxed way near your

horse provides him with more comfort than

kissing all over his face. Just being near, being

quiet, and being confident relaxes them. They can

feel you are relaxed and for a moment they can

also relax. Remember they spend much of their

time in a state of nervousness concerned they are

about to be attacked. The only time they truly

relax is when their leader relaxes because they

trust their leaders judgment that much. The

relaxation of the leader has a ripple effect

throughout the herd.

When you remove a horse from its herd it

will become naturally anxious because it has left

the safety of its herd mates. When you remove a

horse from the herd you should take over the role

of leader in a two party herd. If the horse

determines you to be it's new leader you will see a

relaxed animal who follows you willingly. If it

rejects you as leader, you will see an animal who

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -54-is hard to control and is acting out its anxieties

from being separated from the “safety net” of it's


This little simple exercise can help you to

see if you are thought of as leader. Simply go in

the pasture and remove your horse. As soon as

he/she is out of sight of the herd you will see one

of two things happen. If you are leader the horse

will follow you without incident. If you are not

trusted as the leader the horse will become harder

to control. It may spin around paying little

attention to your commands and crowd you.

Extreme cases may rare up.

People use the term “herd bound” to

describe a horse that reacts in a negative way to

being removed from his herd mates. A herd

bound horse may pull and jerk you around. He

may run off with the his rider back to his buddies.

The truth about this horse is they just do not feel

that you are a confident enough leader to keep

them safe. They are safer in the herd. They will try

to escape you and return to where they are safe.

People confuse this behavior with a horse

that is “spoiled”. They say the horse does not want

Human Equine Relationship Development

H.E.R.D -55-to work. He is avoiding work and wants to get

back to grazing. This is not usually the case. A

horse that is herd bound needs to be taught that

he is safe away from the pasture and his friends.

He needs to know that you will be a good leader in

place of his lead mare. After a few successful

adventures under your command he will no

longer react to being removed.

If for some reason his fears are justified,

like you take him out and whip him to make him

stop - punishing him too severely or at the wrong

time - the behavior will get worse. You have to be

steady and consistent. Apply enough force to

move the horse along and then take the time and

effort to teach him that the outside world isn't so

bad after all and you are a good leader who keeps

him safe.

Here is a little story to illustrate this point.

My niece Ashley bought an older mare to start out

on learning to ride. Although this mare was older