Tag Archive for: natural horsemanship

How to Build Your Barrel Horse’s Confidence and Respect with Leadership

How to Build Your Barrel Horse's Confidence and Respect with Leadership

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #43 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
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In this final part of a three part series of Q&A videos, I’ll be sharing what it really means to provide proper leadership, and how doing so can create not only happier, but more competitive barrel horses.

The definition of leadership, thanks to Wikipedia, goes something like this…

“Organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal.” A leader is “somebody whom people follow: somebody who guides or directs others.”

I also love this definition of leadership in the quote below from Dwight B. Isenhower

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”

Now there are a few signs that may be showing up if your horse is in need of more and/or better leadership from you…

  • Gets distracted, can’t focus, can’t stand still
  • Is spooky, tense, high headed, hesitant, worried
  • Is resistant, unresponsive, unwilling, or dominant
  • Is “naughty” or dangerous – kicks, bucks, runs off, invades your space

You might automatically think “Oh, MY horse isn’t that way!”

“Naughty?” Or lack of education and leadership?
“Naughty?” Or lack of education and leadership?

But really, if you become very aware and look closely – does he ever volunteer to walk off before you ask?  Or is there ever even a split second of hesitation present when you ask him to go? 

If so, regardless of whether the symptoms are very subtle, lack of leadership can be holding you back in competition.

In every herd of horses, there is a leader, usually a boss mare that leads the other herd members.  When you are with your horse, YOU are the leader, even if your herd consists of only you and your horse. 

It’s up to US to watch out for danger, protect our horse and help them feel OK about their surroundings so they can be calm, connected to us, and responsive.
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