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Problem Solving

There are many solutions to any problem.

But many solutions only treat the symptoms of the problem. A more leveraged bit for a horse who won’t stop. A tie down for a horse who is tossing his head. More constant leg pressure for a horse who doesn’t want to go forward.

In these examples, the core question of why the horse is doing this behavior is never addressed.

Not only are solutions that treat a symptom ineffective, they often create more frustration and even more problems in the long run. For example, now the horse who was tossing his head because of the restrictive hands of a tense rider is not able to express his frustration in this way so he starts kicking out instead.

Perhaps the head tossing is gone, but it was replaced with an even more dangerous behavior.

Instead, if the rider realizes their arms are tense and their hands too tight on the reins, and then changes their way of riding, the horse can move freely – problem solved.

To get to the core solution to a problem, we need to ask the right questions and do a little troubleshooting.

In the video below, I will take you through my Problem Solving Framework and the 6 questions to help solve any problem you are having with your horse.



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12 Responses

  1. Valuable information. Nice for the horse to be considered that there may be a good reason they are not cooperating. Thank you.

    1. Marjorie,

      So glad you found this helpful and that you resonated with Callie’s approach to problem solving. 🙂 We believe riding and training with horses should be done in partnership, considering the needs of both horse and rider. Thanks for watching!

  2. Hi Callie
    I really like your approach. My horse is great out hacking alone or with one other but when we are in a group of 3 or more he is very strong and competitive. I was told this by his former owner so think maybe learned behaviour. I don’t feel at risk but do worry about potential impacts for other riders.
    If space permits I can circle him but I’d rather be in complete control of pace changes. I am trying to use my body and not changes to bits etc Any thoughts?

  3. I find your insight into horse psychology very interesting. When I first purchased Choco’s GoldRush back in 2010 he came with several learned behaviors. One was the mounting block! When he realized that if he stood quietly he received a piece of carrot – problem solved. He was also afraid of horse spray because the previous owner would just walk up to him and start spraying. I started out by showing him the bottle then making a psst sound several times before spraying his lower leg. He then learned what was to come next – again problem solved. There is always a solution if we take the time to think about it rather than becoming frustrated and impatient.

    1. Carol,

      Sounds like you’ve done some fantastic work with him through listening, noticing, and changing your routine to help him feel more confident. Taking the time to take a step back and address the root of a behavior, whether it be clarity, nervousness, or patience, will help you establish better mutual understanding long term. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Have learned so much from your classes Callie. Joining horse class is the best thing I’ve done since I bought my horse!

    1. Kathy,

      We love having you here! Hope to see you in the upcoming workshop. 🙂

  5. A well-timed video! Yesterday I went to my lesson barn prepared to talk through with the six problem-solving steps what has been causing my horse to spook and bolt late in our lessons the last two times. It turned out he had done the same, when tracking right, in other lessons the past two weeks, likely due to inflammation and joint pain. He’s now on medication and rest.

    1. Nancy,

      Wow, awesome you were able to immediately apply these problem solving steps to help him! Glad to hear you could identify the source of the problem so that it can be resolved. I’m sure he appreciates it! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Hi – Can you give me some more information about changing the hormonal mares diet. I have such a horse at home and I would like to know what feed you were using and what did you switch to. Thank you, Ilze

  7. I am curious. What ever happened to Promise with the kissing spines? Was she retired, euthanized, received surgery?

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