You hit a roadblock at a horse show and, because youre a thinking rider, you don’t jump to the “he’s just being a jerk” or “his saddle doesn’t fit” or “she must be in heat” conclusion, with a sigh and a wave of your hand. You look deeper. A common thread. Go through your mental files of personal experience, and the proven facts about horse physiology and behaviour you’ve learned.

Refusing to go over a jump or into the ring. Lameness on the right hind. Head shaking. A canter that just feels “flat”. Is it me or my horse? Here are some of the questions I ask when I’m faced with a horse puzzle…

Has there been a history of this problem? This week? Last month? Is it seasonal? Intermittent or constant?

Am I riding differently? Have I changed my technique? Are my aids clear, or possibly muddied with emotion, distraction or time pressure?

Anything new? New tack? Shoeing change? Feed increase? New crop of hay? Weather change?

Am I reading my horse correctly? Can I distinguish between fear, resistance, fatigue, pain?

Horses can’t communicate the source of the problem. And despite speaking a common language, sometimes neither can the people in our lives. How often have we dismissed someone as a snob when they’re just distracted? Or a wimp without knowing their history? Or lazy when they’re in physical pain?

Next blog, we’ll take a look at an interesting study to help determine if the source of a horse’s issue is pain, and if so to help quantify the degree of that pain…

Wise words from the Bible …

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 

1 Peter 3:8

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15

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