Who’s in control?
QI know there’s an ongoing debate about whether you should be your horse’s friend or his leader. What works best — especially if you've a horse who mucks about and spooks a lot? Sarah says... This is a very good question. I believe we can be both a friend and a leader to our horses, depending on the situation and the horse. I don’t think a friend and a leader should be thought of as being polar opposites. Let’s for a moment consider the horse in his natural setting, grazing in a herd. Some horses will have a tendency to be confident and take more of a leader role, while others find security in having a confident buddy and take a back seat from making decisions. In any horse pairing, one horse is always more confident and the other submissive (or less confident). This is natural equine etiquette and is an essential part of ensuring the safety and survival of all herd members.
Follow the leader
When we take the part of leader, it gives our horse security, which in turn makes him feel more relaxed. It’s interesting you say your horse “mucks about and spooks”. This sort of behaviour can indicate that the horse feels he is the more confident member of your partnership. He may feel that he’s the one responsible for keeping everyone safe, attempting to make the decisions and so on. By kindly showing your confidence, your horse will begin to look to you for security and guidance instead. He will feel more relaxed, so spooking and attempting to take the lead will lessen, as he will know you’ve got his back. Try some kind and positive relationship bonding touches, which signal to your horse that you're confident and he can look to you for assurance. For a demo video, go to bit.ly/2vNfazr.
Be confident when you ride and your horse will look to you for direction