Minimising vs. Avoiding Flight

Working with the horse’s flight instinct and what I’ve learned about minimising it.

Horses have survived for Millennia by utilising their flight instinct. As riders and trainers we need to teach them an alternative behavioural response to situations in which they are unsure. This programme will show you how to do this but it is important to understand and be able to manage a horse’s flight response when introducing anything new. This is particularly pertinent when it comes to applying pressure to initiate movement in a horse.

However skilled you may be, flight will occur at some point in your horsemanship journey. The best way to minimise flight is by disengaging your horse’s hind end and starting again until they realise there is another response other than flight. Minimising flight will increase trust and teach your horse that you are an adequate leader.

If you don’t tell your horse to move after an ask has elicited no response, you are likely avoiding the horse entering any sort of flight. This will place you firmly down the pecking order and your horse will likely only do things when they feel like it, and with little effort. In generating movement you may initiate a flight response when you ‘tell,’ which you need to control to achieve a desired response. When you ask again your horse will most likely react with a different attitude. They will be more willing after being ‘sensitised’ to the request. It is important to do as little as possible but as much as necessary.

In my own horsemanship journey I have come to the conclusion that horse training can be just as expedient when keeping a horse’s need to flee to a minimum as it is by ramping up the pressure to get a response (and thus a release) to reach a learning point more quickly. By keeping flight to a minimum you will gain your horse’s trust and confidence, which will go a long way in motivating them to try and in establishing a good working relationship.

For more important thoughts on horses, the training process and how we can help of hinder our horses, login and visit the Pre Training Knowledge section or download the e-Book you will find there.

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