Do you remember that very first long ride you took with your horse? My guess is that you experienced soreness throughout your legs or you were extremely sore all over your body. You became this way simply by riding your horse, and not carrying anybody or anything on your back. My point is this. When you put a saddle and bridle on a horse, and proceed to ride them, you need to be considerate of the fact that their bodies are similar to our bodies in many ways. This means if you ride them too hard and they are not in riding condition, they too are going to experience muscle soreness and maybe even serious joint pain. So if you are going to ride a horse that has not been ridden in a long time, you need to start out easy with them. Patience and understanding is one of the best gifts you can give your horse. Always consider the results of your actions and your askings when you are sitting on your horses back because they are emotional, feeling animals that deserve your respect.
Think about it. If you were considering running a five mile marathon, would you train for only two days before the race? No, you would start out months ahead, first at an easy pace, build up your muscles a little at a time, give your lungs a chance to become accustom to the stress and extra demands, and continue from there. Same scenario applies here. Horses that have been on the shelf or out of the riding circle need help to rebuild and get their legs up underneath of them. Even natural born athletes must follow certain rituals to reach the point of fitness. If you follow these rules, then more than likely your horse will always be a willing participant. Causing horses to become sore may result in a different behavior the next time you go to get on their back. Horses do have a memory, and if they think that they are about to do something that is going to, at some point, cause them pain, they may become obstinate and unwilling to do what you ask of them. I can’t say that I blame them. In my experience, usually horses that are unwilling to perform has been due to the mistreatment of them by people who really do not understand the way they feel or think. Of course, there are just some horses out there that do not want to be ridden, do not want to do anything that is asked of them, and are looking for free room and board. The best way to handle misbehaving horses is to study their behavior, figure out what it is that they really do like and try and outsmart them. Although we are considered the superior beings in the natural food chain, I have seen many people being outsmarted by a horse.
Being patient, using your common sense, and taking your time, will get you the results that you are looking for. It is a journey, and reaching your destination with your horse can be exciting and rewarding. Remember that horses are our friends. They helped to build our great country as they carried us across the new land. If you have a difficult horse that you are trying to figure out, sometimes it is wise to confer with other horseman before you make the wrong move, which could possibly set you back to square one. When I used to break yearlings, sometimes the worst and most difficult babies to break, with time, patience and understanding would turn out to be the best and most enjoyable horses to ride. Our actions and caring can make a difference, but it probably will not happen overnight. Each day that you have a positive experience with your horse, puts them one little step closer to the goal of having a horse and owner that just spend time together enjoying what each other has to offer. Use the same consideration for your horse as you would for your friend or family. Think before you ride. Happy trails!