When it comes to working with horses, everything needs to be in balance. If not, you risk running into issues down the road.
One of the most important things that need to be balanced is trust and respect...
A horse will usually trust his owner. He'll rely on their judgement to keep him safe. A horse trusts his owner to take care of him and keep him healthy. Trust is important when working with horses. But if a horse doesn't respect his owner, trust will only go so far. A horse will never see his owner as a strong leader if he doesn't respect them.
A horse needs to respect his owner. He needs to also respect their judgement to keep him safe. A horse needs to respect his owner to know where to go and what to do. It's important for him to respect his owner. If not, he may not want to do what is asked of him. But, without trust, a horse that respects his owner may actually be scared of them too.
So, to have a great partnership with your horse, you need both trust and respect. With these two things, a horse is willing to work with you. He will see you as his leader, but also trust you to get through the scary events he'll face in his life.
One of the first places where you can establish this balance of trust and respect isn't in the saddle, but on the ground. Yes, I am one of those that believes that groundwork is important. I also enjoy watching and learning from trainers. I just love trying to understand how to communicate and work better with horses using their language (not ours).
I'll include a video below that's great for anyone who might be new to groundwork. Warwick Schiller is a great horseman who explains the horse's language in a way that's easy to understand.
Don't be fooled in thinking that groundwork and horsemanship is more focused on the western disciplines. In this video, Warwick is working with a dressage horse. At the beginning of this video, this horse is demonstrating a familiar behaviour that is usually ignored by many.
Horses are horses. No matter what discipline or where they are in the world, horses all talk the same language and have the same needs. With a good foundation of trust and respect, a horse and rider can tackle any issue that may come their way.
Until next time, happy riding!