Establish Yourself As A Good Leader
What makes a good leader?
A good leader is someone we trust, that makes us feel good and that we want to follow, even when we are scared.
It's the same for our horses. Establishing yourself as a good leader is important to give your horse the confidence to follow our directions, even when life seem scary ("that rock looks dodgy to me!").
The best way to establish yourself as a good leader, is to show your leadership skills through difficult and scary situations. The situations that are scary for the horse are not normally too scary for us, so showing how to confidently get past these ‘scary’ obstacles can give the horse confidence in our leadership skills.
It is important to maintain calm relaxation while your horse is nervous to show them how to manage themselves emotionally. (Not sure how to remain calm when your horse's temperament has hit the metaphorical ceiling? Breathe!)
Teach your horse how to investigate scary objects. Desensitising them is a good option but you have to keep desensitising them to everything they find scary. Teaching them how to investigate and accept things they are unsure of can make it easier long term.
Again, the horses learn from the release of pressure not the application. Assess the situation. What is creating pressure. Pressure can be physical, mental and emotional.
In the situation of the horse investigating an object it is scared of there is the emotional pressure of fear of the object AND physical pressure of the cue you are using to take them over to it. If you are maintaining the physical pressure when the horse steps toward the emotional pressure, the release of pressure is away from the scary object. For each movement toward the scary object there needs to be a release of the physical pressure and for each movement away from the object there needs to be an increase in physical pressure. Stay calm, be confident and encouraging, use your voice and give positive reinforcement. Make much of a fuss of your horse when they do the right thing, so they seek that feeling of doing well.
The feeling of doing something well releases endorphins and makes us feel good.