Have you experienced or heard of the horse that was going along just fine as it usually does and suddenly just went right brained? Want to know why?
You would think that a good habit would always be good but not when it comes to your horse it seems.
Your horse’s good habits that you have spent hours or years forming and live in the automatic part of their brain, the unconscious part. So, if they are trotting along happily on a good ol’ warm up pattern that you do often, the most active part of their brain will be the automatic side of their brain which is the right brain, which is also where their flight or fight instincts live. If the right brain is most active the horse can quickly trigger to its survival instincts. This is why you may have experienced yourself or heard of the horse that was going along just fine as it usually does and suddenly just went right brained.
Yikes, what a surprise and what a scary thought! We can be going along all happy and relaxed and not see the trouble that is coming, or can we? Yes,we can, but first we have to understand a few things about how our horse is thinking and how habits form in the first place. Seeing as this isn’t a science article, we will just be looking at what to do so you don’t get that scary surprise.
In the teaching of a task that is to become a habit, it will first be in the conscious mind/left brain of the horse and if you give release and options to your horse in training it will stimulate the left brain and logic in your horse. After a while, the repetition of that task will start to become automatic and the horse will need to use less brain power to do it as it is now becoming a habit but, as a result, the task is now stimulating the right brain, which you don’t want as the most active part of your horse’s head when you are sitting on them or anywhere near them for that matter. To keep yourself safe and to keep your horse’s left brain active oh and to keep improving the task try to add some variation in that will cause your horse to think, maybe a transition a turn a lateral move anything rather than just running along on automatic. This will not only help you stay safer and improve your task but make things more interesting for the both of you.
So if you are out on that lovely trail ride and you are daydreaming away, don’t blame the horse if it triggers to its right brain instincts because it is your job to pay attention also not just theirs, fair deal? Stay awake, stay safe,and have fun!