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Ever wondered why horses can behave so differently for different people? Perhaps you’ve been having a problem with your horse, but when your trainer rides they never seem to have the same problem.

Or you notice that a lesson horse you get along with really well is more difficult for other riders.

The reason one person may be more successful with a horse can seem obvious – if that person is more skilled.  But it’s now always this simple. There are other big reasons a horse may act differently with different people and I will explain 5 of these in the video below.


Baldwin, Ann L.; Rector, Barbara K.; and Alden, Ann C. (2018) “Effects of a Form of Equine-Facilitated Learning on Heart Rate Variability, Immune Function, and Self-Esteem in Older Adults,” People and Animals: The International Journal of Research and Practice: Vol. 1 : Iss. 1 , Article 5.

Gehrke, Ellen & Baldwin, Ann & Schiltz, Patric. (2011). Heart Rate Variability in Horses Engaged in Equine-Assisted Activities. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science – J EQUINE VET SCI. 31. 78-84. 10.1016/j.jevs.2010.12.007. 

Smith AV,
Proops L, Grounds K, Wathan J, McComb K. 2016 Functionally relevant responses to human facial expressions of emotion in the domestic horse (Equus caballus). Biol. Lett. 12: 20150907. 

Article by Lisa Feldman Barrett, What Faces Can’t Tell Us. New York Times.


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78 Responses

  1. Interesting thank you. My horse has a new sharer and now has issues such as being caught in the field and breaking away from being tied when tacking up, and cantering off down the field! His behaviour is not the same and I’m starting to wonder what’s happening when the sharer is dealing with him. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

    1. Emma, that is definitely a possibility…did the behavior start after the new handler? Does she use the same tack and equipment that you use?

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  2. My horse “Strider” doesn’t listen to my leg cue to keep trotting or keep cantering. He wants to do about 4 strides and stop. My husband rides him and even though he keeps his heels /leg on him he keeps going. I believe we have developed a pattern of me allowing him to not listen to me.

    1. Great observations Deborah, I hope your husband shares the secret that is helping him keep him going!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

    2. Hi Deborah, my questions to you are: how much does your husband keep his leg on? Is he permanently pushing the horse on? If so, is he much stronger than you are? Is it possible that the horse through your husbands stronger pressure has become somewhat desensitised to your weaker pressure? Should this be the case I think you will probably need to retrain the driving cue for both of you.

  3. Awsome information,as always,we and our horses benefit soo much from your videos-bless you for sharing your knowledge with us who are always trying to do the very best for our horses-thank you

    1. Thank you Elizabeth! Glad to have you here on your knowledge-seeking journey with us 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  4. You are so awesome, I never even thought about some of the things you brought up. Like when you change the environment or just the change in the body position. Thank you for all you do to improve the relationship between horse and rider.

    1. Thank you Michelle! I’m glad you enjoyed this video 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  5. Callie – Very interesting. I have a gelding who is 13yrs old. I have had him since he was 3. I am a 68 year old western rider. I’m very quiet and he’s very easy to get along with (AQHA). He’s had hundreds and hundreds of hours of riding and ground work over the years. He and I seem to be very bonded. At least we both like being around each other! Anyway, a couple of years ago, I went to a cow horse clinic put on by a Top 10 world competitor at that time. He thought my horse needed to be quicker and sharper on the cows (even though he was accurate on his patterns/lead changes). They clinician was pretty aggressive during the day with his own horse which was a world champ, but I sensed that his horse was afraid of him and just wanted to stay out of trouble when he asked her to perform. The guy told me to get off that he wanted to ride my horse and show me what he meant about getting my horse fired up to perform. The first thing I noticed was my horse taking a step back when the guy took my reins and walked up to him. When he climbed up into the saddle and tried to move my horse forward, my horse when straight up in the air and started bucking like a bronc in place. I never had ever witnessed that from him. The guy got upset and got off and said that my horse was a “girl’s horse” which did not set well with me. Anyway, I got back on my horse when the clinician handed him back to me and rode him the rest of the afternoon with absolutely no problems with him or him working the cows. The rest of the participants loved my horse. The clinician watched me all afternoon very closely. At the end of the day, he said that I had done a good job, but that he didn’t like my horse so much. I smiled and told him that evidently the feeling was mutual! I packed up and headed home. That clinician went on to finish 5th at world that year. I am not a great rider, but I spend a lot of time with my horse. I am kind, but firm when it comes to bad behavior which I very seldom have to deal with in my guy. Most people love him for his behavior, his willingness, his skills and his great personality. My horse flat-out did not like that guy’s demeanor that day even though the guy had not done anything to him. He didn’t have a chance to get aggressive with him because he could only get him to move forward about 3 ft. before he went up in the air and into a bucking rage. Is this an example of what you are talking about? I have let many, many other people ride my horse including little kids, he has never ever exhibited that kind of behavior before or since that incident happened.

    1. Linda, this is exactly the type of situation that can occur with different people riding the same horse. It is just like human to human relationships, there are people who get along easily with most people but there is the person every once and awhile who doesn’t like them…You did a really great job of being observant about the changes in your horse’s demeanor and being mindful of that!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  6. I’ve seen it with my old school Marshmallow with the whole emotional state. I had some bad rides where she would crow hope while cantering and that threw my confidence out the window but she wouldn’t do it with anyone else. So now with Star I have to drop that passed experience and try to move on with her but I still get nervous and tense up but my new instructor is doing different things to help me relax going into the canter and build a new relationship with Star.

    1. John – My arabian gelding also does a few crow hops when I initially ask for the canter and that affects my confidence in wanting to canter. Did Marshmallow do it because you weren’t relaxed or was there another reason for the crow hops? I’m interested in hearing your thoughts so that I can figure out my horse. Thank you. Diane

      1. Hello Diane to be honest I’m not really sure during the passed summer I was cantering her in 20mm circles then my trainer moved to the winter barn, not sure what happened then it was a busy fall maybe because she was tired of being ridden, she crow hoped my trainer at that time told me well you rode the hope, not my idea of a fun time. So now I get nervous and tense up when I’m going to give the cue to canter. My new trainer is trying to figure out a way to get me relaxed and once again enjoy the canter again. Hope it helps you

    2. Hi John, great work focusing on building a relationship with Star!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  7. Oh boy have I had this where my mare won’t go forward and work for me in the arena but she is out fine out hacking, but will for my trainer. I have had a couple of accidents breaking individually both elbows, one replacement radial head and also a car accident which was worse than these. Until the other day when I persevered through kicking out, bucking and stomping she then gave up and went lovely. I now have to continue to see if she continues her ways or gives up.
    Dawn from Chester, England

    1. Interesting Dawn, I hope you’ve been able to work through it with her. The behavior might not disappear completely but hopefully, you’ll see it less often! I’m sorry to hear about your accident 🙁

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

    2. Hi Dawn, if I had to put money on it I’d say that you will have to go through this a few times until your horse realises that you mean it wnd she will stop that behaviour. Going through with it means that you don’t stop when she complains as that will reward the undesirable behaviour. So you have to carry on ‘encouraging’ her until that behaviour stops. Unless your horse has a physical problem that leads her to not being able to fulfill your request I think it should not take too long before she forgets about your previous relationship. Another reason why a horse may not want to do something for the rider is when the rider hurts the horse, for example because of the way they are/are not able to control their body (thumping the horse’s back, having unsteady hands that hurt the mouth via the reins etc)

  8. Hi Callie,
    I saw this with my mare. With me, it’s like “being on the rail” is the worst thing in the world. I can manage to get her to stay there at the walk, once we start trotting she bends ‘the wrong way’ and nearly half passes to the opposite side. She “tried it” with my (then) teacher, and my teacher could manage to get her to stay “on the rail.”
    My trainer said things like “put your weight in the outside stirrup”, or “you are putting your inside shoulder forward”, or that I wasn’t assertive enough….if it was “all me”, I would think that my gelding would do the same thing, but he doesn’t. If anything he gets too close to the rail and I have to work at keeping him from scraping my outside leg on the rail.

    1. Susan, sounds like your mare is a little crooked on one side and your gelding isn’t. And if you are in the slightest bit uneven weight wise in the saddle (and it’s hard to tell unless someone points it out to you because our imbalances are so “normal” to us which is what your trainer was doing) then of course she’ll do a lovely shoulder in/half pass/crab walk across the arena. I’ve had the same issue and it took lots of walking/trotting with no stirrups or no reins and steering just using my seat bones. Good luck!

    2. Hi Susan, it sounds like you are working with a new instructor now! Has the new trainer instructed you on how to work through those behaviors?

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

    3. Hi Susan, I read Eri’s comment to you. I think she has a good point about your weight in the saddle and crookedness. Without having seen you ride I’m hazarding a guess here about the reason why things work better with your gelding. Horses are as crooked as riders. If you have a horse that is crooked in the same direction as you are your presence on the horse’s back may enhance the horse’s straightness problem. If your gelding is crooked in the opposite direction to you you can support each other rather than enhance each other’s problems. I’m a trained human and veterinary physiotherapist and would recommend that you have a professional look at your back, at your whole body actually. And ideally a therapist who treats humans and horses and can do a ridden assessment of you on your horses. Hope this helps.

  9. Thank you, Callie. Your videos are really informative and helpful. I am part-boarding a wonderful thoroughbred that loves to challenge me. Recently he refuses to go into the arena. I try all sorts of redirecting, and pressure to lead him in but he locks his legs and refuses to budge. The wonderful woman who owns the barn took mercy on me after trying to get him in for about twenty minutes, and within five minutes she had him following her in so relaxed and easy. He definitely acts differently with her than me. I must admit though, I’ve had a couple of instances with the horse that have left me a bit nervous, which I am trying to overcome. He spooks very easily and one time he just flew in the air when snow screeched it’s way down the arena roof unexpectedly and I went flying off of him. The other time, he spooked when we were doing ground work and knocked me flying. I’m usually pretty good with that kind of thing, but now that I’m older it’s made me a bit more anxious which I want to eradicate. Just like your five points, I’ve had a previous experience with him that effected my confidence, and my emotional state is probably very readable. I really want to build back my confidence with him, use the right cues and be able to break things down for him. Because I just love this guy. Thanks!

    1. Hi Alexandra, is this a horse that you own? Are you leasing him? Are these new behaviors that he is exhibiting?

      Is your instructor open to walking you through those types of situations where he won’t come into the barn?

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  10. yes, but I have a horse now that responds better to me than to the trainer. strange but true. I think its because I don’t ask as much. and he gradually comes around to doing what i want. And I was training for Western Dressage and he is an older horse. The trainer was more toward the classical .

  11. Thanks for a very informative video – some eyeopeners!
    My trainer looks better on my horse, but the horse is more relaxed with me. With aides less has worked best for me along with breathing and just feeling your horse.

  12. My horse is much more calm with me. Whenever someone else rides her she is constantly looking at me. She is more high headed and hollow backed with most other riders and very worried in general. I believe she is less confident when she’s not sure what to expect. With me she knows that she is always safe. Also, she is very nervous when riders give strong give or impolite aids. She also feeds of timid nervous riders and becomes fearful.

    1. Hi Stacey, I can relate to that! I have a horse that I’ve raised since she was a yearling and I think she gets confused with other handlers sometimes!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  13. My Appendix mare and I have very different relationships on the ground and in the saddle. She trusts me implicitly on the ground but our nerves escalate when I ask her to do work. She speeds up at the trot or canter and it takes me a while to adjust and settle her. Any suggestions for gaining her trust when I’m in the saddle? I anticipate the speed with contact but am concerned about releasing contact as a reward when she slows. Need to resolve this in order to enjoy the ride!

    1. Hi JoAnne
      Relaxation trust contact and breathing support you and your horse.
      Relaxation techniques can be for rider, horse and with a sensitive trainer to guide, both horse and rider together.
      Anticipation and contact are interwined from your story.
      Review all tack saddle fitting and bridle and bit. Check for physical pain such as muscle tightness over use or weakness and spinal alignment with a qualified equine osteopath.
      Training check
      Try the horse in transtions as unridden ground work exercises and observe your breathing and any tension, mind or body present in either you or horse. Have a trainer observe you both. Then under saddle.
      Repeat transitions halt to walk to halt and observe breathing out with release of your contact gently after your horse gives you a positive response. Repeat action walk to trot and return to breathing out to walk. Observe relaxation response over the downward transition covering only 6 to 8 steps maximum. Breathing out and release contact tension straight away as horse relaxes and slows. This moment is gold.
      Repeat walk to trot to walk gradually lengthening trot by only a few steps. You want to breathe out and release as downward transitions reinforse positive response. The rein tension can release a little as similiar to using a hand squeeze ball for tension release. Best safe training with you and your horse in a relaxed state of learning and being.
      Breathing out
      Relaxes shoulders arms increases diaphram softens back lengthens legs and sends heart rate lower a little. Cues to your horse to relax.
      Tie a exercise band to a heavy chair. While sitting on a exercise pilates ball take up contact and sense the release of tension in the band. Propriaception of your own tension and release will be good to enable less strength of force in rein aids.
      Ask training to check for alignment and softness in your position through all gaits.
      Take care, Alice xox

    2. Hi JoAnne
      Callie has a great video and interesting observations.
      I leased an Appy who was complex and raced in trot before canter. State of mind and horse and rider interraction aside the search began. We found ground work with teaching and rewarding the slowing of the trot took time. The cue was verbal, “slooow trot Spot” in lower relaxed voice while i breathed out allowing energy to fall softly to ground. The reward for Spot was instant reward with release and praise. He responded a few times taking a few weeks of this ground work then under saddle. We rode briefly into walk and halt transitions and with breathing out into downward gaite he began to relax. Riding with 3 responses into gaite transitions we completed riding and he was returned to the paddock. At times we rode only for 15mins. Repeated a few sessions a week apart then into walk trot walk transitions with only a few steps in trot to equal relaxation in Spot. Noting our breathing out at times reinforced the right response. Gradually each session became longer with more steps in trot in the right frame of mind. He later developed side bone in both fore hoofs and started to loose sight. Sadly he is in heaven but was so generous to try with these patiently ridden sessions to relax. Figure of 8 was also a trot slowing pattern.
      Your detective hat is on to check your horse as she may have many causes in responding to a rushing ridden stimulus. Pain from physical, feet, teeth, jaw, tmj joint, tack, bit or spinal pressures. Osteopath and vet can confirm. As a rider, breathing became a marker for tension release particularly in downward transitions.
      A trainer may assist in observing rider training, tension and release patterns and assistance to retrain both horse and rider response.
      Take care, Hope you find content useful. Alice Cohen xox

  14. I don’t have a lot of experience, but for me, I think attitude is probably the biggest factor. I spend a lot of time just being with the horses and I make sure to be fully in the moment when doing so. I smile a lot, laugh at times but talk very little, and generally just try to let the horses know by my body language and disposition that I’m honored to be hanging with them. Hopefully, they also understand that I don’t always want something. I really believe this attitude carries a lot of weight with them when it comes to me trying to do groundwork and riding.

    I don’t have anyone to train me and I convinced the horses know I’m a ‘beginner’, but most of the time, they give me a lot of try. I just make sure to be adaptable in my plans based on their mood of the day and give (in whatever way I can) more than I take.

    I probably won’t articulate this well, but I’ve also noticed that even though a horse may seemingly perform better with one person over another, he may not necessarily be pleased about it. I remember one horse, in particular, who did all that the trainer asked but you could see the annoyance and anxiety all through the horse’s face. Yet when he was worked by others (less skilled), he didn’t necessarily perform as well, but his attitude was more pleasant and relaxed. I think you often see this at boarding facilities where lots of people are handling the same horse (turnout, feeding, etc.). Some workers have really positive attitudes and the horses pick up on that. Others aren’t so chill and their energy spills over into the horse which makes him more dicey to be around. Of course, everyone’s style of horse handling and philosophy are an important piece of this topic too.

    1. Right on Dawn. I’m a recreational rider, but I’ve been doing it for more than 30 years with my own horses. My experience tells me you’re very correct.

      My first pony almost 60 years ago bucked me off, bucked my dad off and bucked my brother off, but with my four year old little sister he was perfectly behaved. I’m convinced he knew to take care of her and was protective of her.

      My first horse would rear on command with me (it was the era of the Lone Ranger), but never reared unexpectedly. With my trainer, she reared one time when someone closed (did not slam) a car door at the riding arena and the trainer fell off backwards. Thankfully he wasn’t hurt, but he was a contender for state pole bending champ at that time and was the much better rider.

      Another horse I owned struck at me as I was leading him through a pasture gate and bruised, but did not break my arm. I sold him at a low price to a classical dressage instructor and a year later he was doing piaffe and was her students’ favorite school horse.

      I have a Quarter Horse gelding now who has bucked me off three times resulting in bruised ribs and a concussion over a 12 year span. My response was to spend more time on groundwork in the round pen and it became drilling. He would tense up and buck whenever he was at liberty in the round pen. One day, I decided to try something different. I led him into the round pen and let him go, and he immediately started to the rail to run and then buck. But I turned and sat on the mounting block in the center of the pen and just waited. He looked back at me and over about ten minutes he took a few steps and then a few steps more until he was standing facing me. He lowered his head, exhaled and half closed his eyes and stood there with me for another ten minutes until I got up and we walked back to the barn together. He’s been a different horse since that day, and I’m sure I’ve been a different rider.

      I’m convinced your horse reacts to how you make him feel. Making your horse feel safe and relaxed will often make up for a lack of skill. Bringing that right attitude, without ego will set you up for more fun with your horse.

      1. Boy, you’ve had some adventures over the years. I’m nearly 60 and just starting out. I took a few lessons about 7 years ago, but it didn’t pan out for various reasons. Since that time, however, I’ve been fortunate to be associated with people who own horses or boarding facilities in which I have access to them so I spend as much time as possible with them (a lot of which is in the field). Horses are great teachers and I’ve learned a lot through observation and interacting with them in different ways on the ground. I also learned early on by watching people what I did or did not want in the way I relate to a horse. I love groundwork and look forward to trail riding at some point, but I need to develop my riding skills more. I can’t see myself attempting a trail ride until I’m sure the horse and I are on the same page mentally and feel confident enough in one another to branch out. That said, if I never develop my riding skills enough to go it alone, I am so stoked just to have the opportunity to work with horses on the ground. They are amazing.

        1. I think you’re on the right track. And I think the trail riding will be more comfortable than you imagine for you and your horse — because you’ll develop confidence in each other.

          1. Love Callie-and a lot of this and all of the previous comments also correlate well to Warwick Schiller’s approach-especially in the past couple of years-he has an observant and relational approach to horses now-which-like Callie-he is great at explaining.
            Good luck all! It is such a great journey…scary at times-but still so worth it!

          2. I really couldn’t agree more.

            I’m convinced that a horse that has agreed to welcome you on its back, will truely try not to lose you and you will be as safe as you can possibly be on that particular horse.

        2. Dawn, I’m an over 60s happy hacker, and I would say go for a trail ride. Whatever you’re up to – like trot and not canter, for instance – trail places can usually cater for you. It’s a lovely way to practice your skills and the trail riding places are thrilled to have people who have had any experience at all (poor horses with the complete beginners!) After returning to riding in my 50s I found especially that short canters in a straight line on trails were less scary than cantering in an arena, but YYMV 🙂

          1. Thanks… I’m working in that direction. It took a long time for me to help this one particular horse rebuild his confidence (he’s been shuffled around a lot) and work through his anxiety over being separated from another horse, but we’re making progress. I started the most basic groundwork in the pasture where he is most comfortable and have slowly been moving outward into areas he’s less comfortable but not to the degree where his anxiety precludes him from focusing on me.
            Our progress is slow because I’m trying to work with him through feel vs. pressure, so I have to rethink how I present every little thing to him so that he understands what I’m looking for – not easy since he was trained the other way (no judgement) and the little training I received years ago was along those lines as well . At times, it’s overwhelming.
            Nonetheless, it’s been really cool to watch his confidence return and as this increases as do our experiences together, we may find ourselves on a trail or dirt road.
            My riding skills are limited, so I would feel much better if I had sufficient cantering skills under my belt.. just in case the unexpected happens. Then I could ride through it for a moment before asking him to transition down to a trot or walk.

    2. Dawn, great observations! Where we are in our own emotional state has a huge effect on our horses and our interactions with them.

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  15. Hi Callie,
    Certainly a video I can relate to. I have a very ‘quirky’ green mare that is normally the bottom of the herd and from time to time she tries to be dominant (without success!), a mare that can’t be told and instead negotiate with. I sent her to a trainer to further her education some time ago and the trainer called me and asked if she was even broken in!!! Apparently she wouldn’t respond to the basics for them, no steer, no stop and her own agenda. After much discussion we figured out it was her trying to be dominant over the trainer (I Am the only one to ride her since breaking in and I had never experienced her do that). They got her figured out after a couple of rides and progressed well but it certainly demonstrated the impact pre-existing relationships have on the horse.

    1. Rachel, I think it is very similar to acclimating to a new workplace and getting accustomed to working with new coworkers!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  16. I have a new horse who rears up when she doesn’t want to do something. I came off on our 4th ride 6 weeks ago and haven’t ridden her since. I have done groundwork with her .. she is improving … but on a lunge will only go one way and when asked to go the other way she rears up. I am 60 and had the perfect horse for 15 years.

    1. Hi Jan, is this new behavior? Do you have any history on her?

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  17. We Have this problem with our paint but we are slowly moving pasted the behave and understanding each other.

  18. Really appreciated this video. My stallion who is home grown and I were having bad experiences and as a result bad results. I knew that it was a relationship issue in the end caused by a lot of minor things that culminated into me feeling unsafe on him and he being totally unfocused with me. I changed my behaviors with some good results and also found him a trainer that he really likes. I feel that now our relationship is on the mend and have many more “tools in my tool box” to help maintain a good relationship between us. Love your video…thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Cecile, stallions can be tricky (darn hormones!) I’m glad to hear your relationship is on the mend!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  19. I am wondering if you have ever seen a horse “smart” enough that it behaves negatively to the trainer vs it’s behavior with the owner or it’s human. Even though the trainer has more experience.

    1. Rick you are a week ahead of us with the ‘smart horse’ conversation 😉 Stay tuned for this week’s video!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  20. Hi Callie,
    I am having fun training a three year old and his owners! I might be a little better at horse training than people training, but we’re figuring things out. Our horse is actually the better teacher, and we just try really hard to pay attention to details.
    Relative to your mention of horses responding to facial expressions, we have definitely had more frustrating training days when we work together and wear our masks! I really think it confuses him that he can’t see our whole face. He also tried to bite the masks! Anyone else experience this?

    1. Wow, that is interesting Stacia. It does make sense, the masks weren’t all that common at the barn on a day to day basis before COVID19!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  21. Thank you Callie for another very informative video. I have been riding consistently for over 55 years and I always find your videos interesting. When I ride my horse on an arena I find him to be quite lethargic and I have trouble maintaining a good forward rhythm without using a whip. If I do use the whip he is better forward, but usually cranky and has his ears back. He is better on a trail ride, I think he finds it more interesting and he is more enthusiastic and has his ears forward. One day a friend rode him on the arena and she literally could not stop him. He went from trot to fast trot and then into canter. I had my heart in my mouth, he eventually stopped when she used an excessive pull on the reins. He is very sensitive to my emotional state too. If I am stressed, or in a hurry he is much more likely to spook at things. When I am relaxed and happy, if there is something that he is afraid of he will just slow a bit and look at it, but not want to spin and run away.

  22. Great information! I thought you were posting this just for me and my mare Grace. Last year she did drag me around in hand and under tack, and she would show her impatience with explosion…My lack of confidence grew to a disappointing low. I learned with this horse my lack of clarity truly exacerbated issues, and all my training efforts with this horse would go out the back door. I more less confused her after working with professionals. There was a reason the training would continue to fail me. I had to really commit and be so much more present and aware of my body language, care, skills, requests, and training efforts. CRK, Callie and Katelyn brought me to a new awareness. It has been a really progressive year since September and Im so looking forward to our future progress and continued growth together. Thank you for sharing your weekly blog!

    1. It has been amazing to watch you and Grace both grow over the last year! We are so excited to see what the future holds for you both 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  23. Was having a lesson in a huge arena
    all to myself – wanted to stay and ride
    afterwards – but – when my teacher left my horse started whinnying
    and shaking his head, ignoring me and trotting around stiff and upset – totally out of control – my teacher was a very experienced man. I thought about it and determined the reason my horse was mad he left was he was a he and he wanted him to stay – the teacher and friend as well died only a few weeks later, sadly. I think male horses can be inclined to like males .. in this case anyway and it goes for all animals. Like likes like.

  24. Hi Callie
    I am having that exact experience. I am a very new rider at the age of 60. I just started riding lessons last June. My lessons are weekly riding along with monthly groundwork. In September i started leasing a horse and I get down to the barn another 2 days every week to practice everything I am learning (I am at the barn 3 days a week for a good 2-3 hours). I spend time grooming my lease horse to create a good relationship with him. He is a very sweet horse but has definite anxiety issues. My Trainer has worked with my lease horse for the last 3 years on his issues and he has become good enough horse for newbie riders. I have competed with him in versatility challenges on the ground and in the saddle and have done very well with him. So my issue is in the round pen I can walk, slow trot and post trot him in the clockwise direction (the good way) without a problem. Going the other way (the bad way) i can not hold him on the rail in the slow trot or the post. It is hard in the walk but doable. My trainer can do it with absolutely no issues. If my trainer walks the pen about 6 feet away from my ride, the horse will stay on the rail, so he is responding to her pressure. I can’t figure out what I am doing wrong. I can ride my trainers horses both ways in the pen. The “bad way” is definitely a bit more difficult for me with her horses as well, so I believe it is something I am doing but I don’t know how to break it down to figure out what the issue is. Any thoughts? Thank You

    1. Hi Shari, thanks for your comment! Have you asked your trainer to break down how she is managing the behavior?

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

      1. Yes we have been working on breaking down all the movements. We have worked with only using my legs to guide him, we have gone on a free ride (let the horse decide where he wants to go and me just follow him) to see how my balance is. We are working it. I get a little discouraged but will forge forward. I love horses and the barn so much.


  25. I shipped my young horse off to the trainer for a solid start. The horse would not move forward, only stand. His feet locked up with a rider. He did great for yhe trainer after 6 weeks. When I brought the horse home, nothing had changed. It took a friend cowboying him a couple of times and finally, the horse would walk with me. We eere able to build on that.

    1. Elke, it is important to have a trainer that can clearly teach you as well as the horse!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  26. Good lesson, making people aware how their actions and how they go about dong things can affect the horse’s behavior. One thing I would like to add, and maybe this is very close to the emotional factor, is that the body language and tone of voice will also affect how the horse reacts to its human.

  27. I have a horse who is spooky with lorries and buses and will drop his shoulder and gallop off I opposite direction, I know now that he reads my fear as soon as I see a large vehicle and that reinforces his reaction its awful

  28. Callie–I love all of your videos. That’s why I came to Honey Brook Stables for riding lessons. I am not the most skilled rider, but I always aim to develop a positive relationship with the horse before I get on. I aim to help the horse relax by making grooming and tacking up as pleasant as possible for the horse. I am certified in equine massage, so I will often do a little massage on the horse as I groom. Helping the horse relax also helps me relax. I aim to keep the horse as relaxed as possible while I ride.

    1. Hi Melinda, thanks for being part of our barn community! We try to make the experience the best for both horse and rider 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  29. Yes, all very true. Only a couple of days ago I went to see a friend’s new horse that she has problems with. She can’t get the horse to go forward on the ground. The horse has a couple of minor physical problems but the big factor was her handling, which thankfully I could point out to her. I had him trotting on the lunge rein within 10 seconds, something she had not achieved in 2 months. yesterday he was already more responsive, which is good news.

    1. Great news that the horse is more willing to move forward now – physical problems can definitely impact the horse’s ability to respond to our requests!

      -Julia, CRK Training Community Manager

  30. My husbands horse is a 16+ hand mare that had been used in her younger days for barrel races then as. Brood mare. When my husband got in her she bucked like a bronc.. when my trainer/ friend got on her she was as calm as can be. There is a huge weight difference and an even bigger experience gap. We love her. I am lighter than my husband but am apprehensive about trying to learn to ride her.

    1. Hi Audrey, thanks for your comment. I would recommend having the trainer watch you ride her and also watching her ride so that you can watch what she is doing that works!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  31. Hi Callie, Great tips, Callie, thanks. My gelding walks politely alongside me on a loose rein on forestry walks but for others he often drags them into the bushes and keeps snatching grass. I take him back, and whee, he’s an angel again. Also happens under saddle, my good boy turns brat…. bit like a kid who knows what he can get away with, or NOT!

    Most dramatic example of what you talk about in this video was watching a German friend who worked with a young girls horse. The girl couldn’t get her mare to do anything except shuffle along in the round pen. Enter Marlene, erect, fully present, and with ‘life’ in her body and the horse came alive, responding to her slightest request with enthusiasm. The young gal was gobsmacked. Marlene encourage the girl to change her posture and animate her body and ask clearly and the horse then mirrored her.

    I find that being conscious of my breath, my posture, and where I keep my focus totally alters the response I get back from a horse. Plus allowing the horse a pause, to lick/chew/ and integrate before I ask again.

  32. I am having a strange (or maybe not) problem with a horse I lease. It’s sort of this problem, except I’m literally (according to the owner) the only person who has ever had a problem with this horse. They call her bombproof and beginner safe and indeed, a 6 year old beginner is riding her with no problems–at least that’s what they tell the owner so I have to believe it. Which means, I, all of a sudden can’t ride as well as a 6 year old beginner?? I’m not as confident as I used to be, I took 10 years off from riding as I struggled with disabling disease that affected my body and joints as well as making me 80% blind in my mid 30’s. So, at 48 I started leasing an Icelandic, just once per week. I’m no expert rider by any means, but I’ve been riding since I was 5 and have spent groups of years through my life riding several times per week, as well as working at 3 different large boarding barns. It’s all been trail or road riding, nothing fancy. Mostly Western. Now, I’m riding English on this Icelandic and she’s spooky and jumpy and untrustworthy for me a lot of the time. She’s also balky and just stops and refuses to move forward–so I circle her until I get her moving again. Apparently, the owner thinks I’m a poor rider and tells me this horse has NEVER had a single issue with any other rider and is normally bombproof. I’ve been leasing for a year now and things have improved–mostly because my seat and strength has improved so I’m not so worried about getting dumped, but we still have struggles at some point in every ride. It’s disheartening. I’m not that terrible a rider–certainly at least as good as a 6 year old beginner! So I’m thinking this is purely emotional state related? Or does this horse just not like me specifically? I’ve never had this problem before in all the horses I’ve ridden. Including another horse I was riding right around the time I started leasing the Icelandic.

    1. Animalia, my first question would be if you have watched the other rider with the horse and if there is anything she might be doing that is different from what you are doing? There definitely is something to be said about the mental state of the rider. Does it happen every ride? Do you notice any sort of pattern with the days that are worse?

      -Julia, CRK Training Community Manager

  33. I have a mare that I bought 3 years ago when I just started riding . She was 11 when I got her a 16hh blue roan. She didn’t like people very much at all. Her previous owner had trouble with her rooting so for 10 years he tied her head down. They used her in bird dog runs. She had a bad case of cannon bone crud because you couldn’t touch her legs. I spent 6 months on the ground with her as she seemed very traumatized. Fast forward 3 years she is my girl. I put her in a Robards comfort walking horse bit instead of the high port pallet jabber her previous owner used. She has been very patient with me as I was with her. She has taught me to ride ( I’m sure I could use some work) she has a very nice running walk. Still having issues with the canter I really haven’t asked her to do much due to her having a stifle issue. But I took a horse that kicked at the fence all her life anytime a person walked near and now I have her going nicely for me with no tie downs . I do have to use light hands as she seemed very anxious and I believe she may had been abused by a man. After 3 years she tolerates my husband but he can not ride her without her becoming extremely anxious. I have had several people try and ride her and she gets very anxious and if the continue to push her she comes undone. I will note that my husband has trained horses for years and he doesn’t have much luck with her. I can even turn her completely loose on the ground and she will follow me and do her pole work for her stifle with just verbal cues. Bonding and trust is one of the most important things you can have with a horse. The horses my husband rides and one he is currently training both have the same attitude hard to calm down . I don’t think it’s just the horses I think it’s something to do with my husbands demeanor. Maybe he is too anxious or “man handles “ them as I like to call it. He seems to have the attitude you will do what I ask and I mean it. I always ask my horse gently and gently nudge her but I always makes sure she behaves. She is so gentle with me
    As well never demands things or gets pushy. I have mentioned ex to my husband that he needs to learn to relax more but he always s ens rushed and I think his horse picks up on it

  34. Im older, not riding as much so I gave my 15 yr old gelding to a family that their daughter 9 yr old) was taking lessons, working with a trainer, etc. They had him for a year then returned him as he started rearing with her. When he came home, I rode him a few times, no issues, same old calm gelding , more whoa than go. So I sold him to a local guy and explained what had happened and said I would buy him back if the horse showed any rearing behavior. Well, he reared on the guys first ride, so he is back here again. Ive decided he will stay here. My question is, there arent any obvious health issues, teeth ok, why is he rearing…. or why isnt he rearing with me? Im 69, just walk, trot, nothing exciting. Do horses pick and choose who to demonstrate unwanted behavior to??

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