Do you wish you could stop fighting with your horse? That you and your horse would quit having different ideas of what needs to happen? And your horse would not behave like a rebellious toddler?

It’s likely because you’re not taking his natural instincts into consideration. You’re working against them instead of with them. You may need to change your approach.

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We all know that horses are fight or flight animals. And the ability to move their feet is what makes them feel safe. So when a horse feels confined, his self preservation instincts go into hyper drive.

Learn more about a horse’s natural instincts: Listen To Your Horse

Stop Fighting With Your Horse | #1 Example

At every clinic, there are at least two or three horses that have no speed control. They are full of bother which manifests as wanting to go, go, go. Human reasoning says we must fight against that and stay choked up on the reins to keep him from speeding up. So the horse continues to feel confined and his self preservation instincts never lower. He isn’t given the opportunity to naturally move his feet with a human on his back. 

In this scenario, the horse sees the human as a hindrance to his well being. And you are fighting a losing battle.

Listen to my podcast: Why Are Horses Difficult?

Stop Fighting With Your Horse | Become The Hero

How do you build a horse’s confidence? By making him feel safe. What makes him feel safe? The ability to move his feet. 

Being afraid to let your horse move out when he feels like that’s what he needs to do will always cause a fight. If the human can get to the place where they can go with the horse, only picking up a rein when the horse goes from a trot to a lope, the fight will soon end.

Become a valuable passenger. Get with the horse’s movements and see how it feels to be synced up together. Be the hero by giving your horse the opportunity to travel around unhindered

Disclaimer: You want to get this going in an arena or enclosed area at first. Only then would you be wise to ride outside of a pen.

Watch my video: Trotting Secrets

Stop Fighting With Your Horse | Demo

If a clinic participant has a horse that needs to move, and they can’t bring themselves to let that happen, then I step in and ride the horse.

The first few laps around, the horse may still be bothered and choppy and wanting to go. So I go with him and only interfere when he starts to get really fast. In that case, I simply use one rein to tip his nose and get in his way a little until the feet slow just a bit. As soon as that happens, I open up again and continue to go with him, not fight against him.

In every single case, after a few laps the horse realizes that there is no longer anything hindering his ability to move. So he stops feeling the need to go. Ironic, huh? 

He slows his pace, drops his head, relaxes, and travels around like a ‘normal’ horse. Why? Because the human on his back was no longer an obstacle to his self preservation. The human has become the hero because he has given the horse what he needed.


Even the groundwork we do is designed to help a horse turn loose in his feet. A horse that is good at groundwork will not have sticky feet. He will have smooth, fluid movements and the human will easily control what the horse’s feet do. You can always assess a horse’s mental state by being aware of his feet. If his movements are choppy and have no cadence, his mind is the same way. If his feet move lightly with no resistance, his mind is open to suggestion.

Under Saddle

When teaching maneuvers like backing or sidepassing, you can be your horse’s hero by showing him that the way to deal with pressure (rein, leg, etc) is by moving his feet. Moving his feet brings a full release of pressure. Eliminating braces and tension in the feet, eliminates braces and tension in the mind.

Work With Your Horse’s  Instincts Instead Of Fighting Against Them

So use a horse’s natural instincts to your advantage. Never fight against them. Show your horse that you can keep him alive because you are not going to restrict his freedom to move. Then his instincts will lower and he will give himself up to you.

For more on what to do in a high pressure situation, go here: Ride Where You Can, Not Where You Can’t

Be Fair To The Horse

In reality, It’s not really fair to expect a horse to drop his guard if we haven’t proven that we’ve got his best interests at heart. And we know how to make him feel safe. 

Additional info about Solving Horse Problems

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Carson James
Carson James

Carson James' background is in Vaquero Horsemanship, and for the majority of his career, he worked on cattle ranches where he rode horses all day, every day. His knowledge comes from real life experience using traditional Buckaroo horsemanship to train horses and fix problems. He is now taking all of this knowledge and experience and sharing it with horse owners through his blog, his Insider list, and his Buckaroo Crew. He has a unique way of breaking things down where they're easy to understand, both for the horse and the human.