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RE: [RC] Boldness in Horses - Tracey Lomax

I prefer to think of this as “forward thinking” horses vs “backward thinking” horses.  A forward thinking horse will always walk up to and investigate things which worry it, a backward thinking horse will need to be persuaded (and sometimes forced) to do that.  Forward thinking horses tend to be happy to go out alone or in company and are not affected by other horses’ fear, and so, if out with a spooky horse, won’t become spooky themselves.


I have two horses in my yard who are “forward thinkers”. Both were like that from the time I got them.  One is my baby WB who at the age of three is happy to lead an outride and who will go over, through, under or past anything.  The other is my OTT TB, who does dressage, showjumping, eventing and who I’ve yet to see go “I’m not happy going there”.  When something startles him (yes, he will spook, he is a horse after all), his first reaction after the initial spook is to walk right up to whatever has startled him, investigate it and move on.  And he does this whether or not I ask him to.


I have one “backward” thinking horse in my yard.  He is 17 years old and his standard MO is to plant his feet / run backwards / go up if he doesn’t like what he’s presented with.  With time, he’s learned to be desensitized to loads of things, from motorbikes to hot air balloons to wild animals, but if presented with something new, he will STILL give me a hard time about going past it and he’s a bugger to showjump cos he can’t be trusted. Eventing is simply a no-no.


I have two horses in my yard who are spooky and looky but because they are essentially generous, they’ll let the rider over-ride their insecurity (which means that you need to be careful not to ask for too much and break their trust).


And then I have a young Tb who, in every demonstrable way, is about as backward thinking as you can get (he rears if he’s under pressure and if he spooks, which has only happened ONCE the entire time I’ve known him, his inclination is to bolt back home!) but who is quite possibly the BRAVEST of the bunch and will make a fantastic event horse because so far, nothing frightens him.  He’s the most complex to ride because I know that he will only give me what he’s comfortable giving me, and I have to read him every step of the way.  I adore riding him because he makes me confident.  Odd.




From: ridecamp-owner@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ridecamp-owner@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Evelyn Allen
Sent: 16 April 2007 02:49 AM
To: ridecamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [RC] Boldness in Horses


Would anyone like to comment on whether they feel a horse is either:  born especially bold;  whether real boldness develops in some horses the more experience they have (and by this I mean not just the usual confidence a horse develops, but actual boldness;  or whether that quality can truly be instilled in a horse.  By "boldness" I mean the preparedness to head out down a trail at any gait either in the lead or by itself, without hesitation (more or less), and/or without major spooks. 

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[RC] Boldness in Horses, Evelyn Allen