Anxious, excitable, crazy, out of control, nervous, reactive.
Beware labels and absolutes.
The human brain likes labels and categories - it’s part of our ability to remember and recall a huge amount of information.
The trouble is, when it comes to our horses this thinking can get us into strife as we not only label the horse, but then continue to relate to the horse as if he is all of those things, all the time.
Horses are prey animals that live in the present, and respond to their environment the way they see fit in relation to survival. You say crazy? Your horse says ‘I’m going to live to see another day’.
It’s our domestication that has contributed to their increased level of injury during these times, in nature there are no fences to run into.
So, back to the labels. We assess and then label horses in varying ways - anxious, introverted, extroverted, bombproof and then we relate to them as such - I’ve heard many people have accidents on their ‘bombproof’ horse and I’ve seen many confident horses develop anxiety issues due to being treated that way.
It’s imperative that we relate to the horse as he is today, not who we believe him to be. My mentor used to say ‘treat him like the horse you want him to be’.
So while labels are a fun way to think about your horse and his traits, it’s important we build our opinions over time in many situations, and continue to reassess. After all shouldn’t your horse be getting better with your training ?
Everything is in context - if I went around to the people who have met you in the past month and asked them ‘what’s she like’. I’d get multiple answers depending on where you were when they met you — at work, a party, with friends or colleagues or family. Some people might call you fun and happy and others might say you were stand offish or rude. Context is important.
Here’s GingerCoops reacting to a shipping container being delivered at our place - had you assessed him during this time you may have used any of the labels at the start of this article - and you would be right, but only for a moment.