Another excellent post from The Red Mare yesterday, who is the horse at the heart of The Happy Horse book.
It's all about people wanting a quick fix for horses with "problems" and buying gadgets or calmers to try and make them easier to work with.
"No calmer in the world will give you a bond of trust with your horse. If you do not build that bond of trust, day by slow day, there is always going to be a moment when you will find yourself in trouble."
The trust I have been building all these years with my horses has really paid off this weekend. I very rarely ride Sky. I have ridden her maybe half a dozen times in all the years we've had her. But I have done a lot of groundwork with her and general day to day interactions so she knows that I am the one who makes decisions and she also knows that if she gets scared, she can turn to me for help. She does get scared quite a lot. Yesterday she was snorting at a patch of snow on the ground because it was well, white, and it hadn't been there the day before. But I said it was OK and we went past it and it didn't jump up and eat her.
Anyway, a friend had brought her Total Contact saddle over for Ali to try. And after she'd done that, I fancied a go. So I got on Sky, she looked round at me as I was on the mounting block as if to say "Well this doesn't normally happen" but she stood still as I mounted and stood waiting for me to tell her what to do. We rode up and down the lane in walk and trot and she followed all my instructions perfectly. She was calm and relaxed, and amazingly sensitive and supple. She really is a credit to Ali.
Would she have let anyone else do that? Probably not. Our years of building up a trusting relationship really have paid off. And of course I trust her too. She was only wearing a cordeo......