We all know that if we want our horses to respond well for us, we need to be the leader they need and deserve.
There are many questions about leadership and many times we are trying to be a leader and end up in the FOLLOWER position.
The first question we need to ask is, "What makes a good leader?" One answer is. The one who leads and guides the others with knowledge and understanding. The one who knows everyones strengths and weaknesses and knows the best ways to use them to benefit everyone involved. This does not mean that input from the others should be dismissed or ignored. A true leader will listen and apply this information to its best uses. Even the most ridiculous and ludicrous of things will have purpose to a true leader who searches for understanding in it.. a true leader must also be a great follower. Meaning at times they know that their understanding of something is not as good as anothers might be so they step back and allow another to lead for that situation. Doing this properly you can still maintain leadership and respect. Doing it poorly you could very well lose respect.
When you work with horses, they are always testing leadership. Many times you will find them putting you in the follower position to see if you can maintain leadership. If you don't recognize this and respond appropriately they will lose respect for you and you will have a hard time maintaining your role as leader. They do this in many ways. If they leave you and you chase them, you are now the follower. But if you can still guide them and control their direction then you maintain leadership. You can also go the other way so as to say to them, "you need me more than I need you." This will show them that you are a confident leader.
Another way a horse tries to switch the roles is by redirecting us or getting us to change our minds. Examples like, a horse comes into our space and we move instead of asking them to move. This tells them they are more significant than us and we lose respect.. Or if we are riding and we ask for a left turn. The horse doesn't want to turn so they brace against us and /or go the other way, so we change and ask them to turn right. In this example they changed our mind disrespectfully and we lost their respect for us. To maintain leadership we need to let them know that we will stay the course. This tells them that we are trustworthy and not flighty and that we do mean what we say. We are something they can count on.
There are so many ways a horse will test leadership. Sometimes they just won't do anything at all. Other times they go against our wishes, or they go a little faster or slower than we really want. Either way, they do it to make sure you deserve the position. They need to know you are Mentally, Physically and Emotionally capable of keeping them safe in every situation. They also do it to make sure you know what you truly want, not just vaguely but precisely. If you can't prove this to them, some will try to take over. We really can't blame them for this but many of us do get bothered or angered by it. Instead we should look at it as a very important game of life. One in which a true meaning emerges and gives us clarity. This clarity has been showing itself more and more since I learned to look for it. It has helped me in many other areas in my life. It has allowed me to become a better, more responsible and respectful leader.
I hope this gives you all a little clarity and you can take this information and apply in your horsemanship.
Thanks for reading.