Riding is so much easier if you know how a horse works. I think it is the duty of everyone who has a horse to study it. It starts with the realization of the motivations that a horse has, which are so different from what we all think. Furthermore, I see misunderstandings and communication problems arise because we think that horses reason like we do. They do not! Also, their memory works differently too. For example, a horse has an abysmal short term memory. He cannot help it. It is useful for a cat to remember which hole a mouse disappears into, so that he can lie on guard. Grass usually does not hide so that is not necessary for a horse. Memory tests were once done where horses were shown cubes being placed in a bucket. There were several identical buckets and the rest remained empty. They were prevented from smelling the treat. If they were held for some time and then allowed to go to where the buckets were, they had no idea which one to choose and they just gambled. On the other hand, it is nice if a horse in the herd living in the wild remembers where water can be found, so that long term memory is a must. This has consequences for how a horse handles new information. When he is startled then the reason for this is immediately stored in his brain. So, if you act like an unpredictable partner he will remember that immediately and for a long time.
As a prey animal it is important that a horse stores well in its brain what can be a danger to him. Unfortunately, he also does the same with the things he thinks are a danger to him. If you want to teach him something, you will sometimes have to practice time and time again. If he experiences panic or fear because of something it is immediately stored in his brain and it is not easy to get it out ever again. Years without problems loading in the trailer but one bad experience with hard braking or something else that scares him and then there is a chance that he no longer wants to go in anymore. Even if you practice it with a lot of patience it takes a long time before it goes completely smooth again. Keep in mind that you may think that spooking is really nonsense “because there is nothing”. But it is definitely something to him. His senses are set slightly different from yours.
A horse doesn’t have the concept of fooling you
Also such a misunderstanding that unfortunately still lives on is that riders can think that their horse is fooling them and deliberately not listening or not doing something to annoy them. It is then believed that a horse should be told off. The horse, unable to think like that, doesn’t understand it at all. He suddenly gets punished for something he doesn’t understand, so all you accomplish is that he finds you an unpredictable and potentially dangerous creature that he better not trust. So what happens? Things then start to deteriorate between the two of you.
Horses can be excited or tired, bored or playful. They don’t know the concept of fooling someone. They naturally live in a herd with many so are focused on social cooperation. They really want to do what you ask them to do, as long as they know what you want and there are no other issues that make listening to you unsafe or less important.
If you are unreasonable they can react violently. Pestering is a human thing. Not doing something “right” (in your eyes) or not doing it at all happens because a horse does not understand you or cannot do it physically. He is definitely not kidding you.
If something doesn’t work or doesn’t happen, be more creative in your mind. Avoid coercion and do not fight. You are allowed to point out what it is you want, but that is something else. Try to come up with a smart solution. If a horse doesn’t want to get away from his friends then ride near other horses. If your horse realizes that it is fun to play games and work together with you, you will automatically gain more control and the moment will come that you can do it with him in other places. He must first relax and be willing to accept your aids. As long as there is fear of you or tension he will learn nothing and cannot work with you. All he wants in that case is to run as far away from you as possible.