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JBCool
May. 7, 2010, 11:49 AM
The thread in eventing on the "Look of Eagles" got me thinking about how much of that my old horse had and how much I miss it. :sadsmile: I wish my new guy had just a little of the App's. (To quote someone else in that thread, he has more the "look of starving puppies.")

Anyway, my question is: I know a lot of that is natural, but can some of that confidence be taught/encouraged? How?

My new guy just has almost NO confidence in himself, just other horses. He's really hard to ride alone (yes, I've been trying to) b/c he thinks he can't do anything on his own without a friend to show him how; he always wants to go back to the group in a group lesson; he screams whenever his stall neighbor goes away. People (i.e. ME) don't give him much comfort either, although I think he finds me better than nothing. Any suggestions would be appreciated. TIA

SmartAlex
May. 7, 2010, 12:18 PM
Anyway, my question is: I know a lot of that is natural, but can some of that confidence be taught/encouraged? How?

Sure. You just have to convince him that you're his only friend and then show him the way. My horse wouldn't leave the yard if he didn't have confidence in me. Heck, we reached a point where he wouldn't leave the yard. I had lost confidence in me. First I had to get that back, then transfer it to him. We actually started by my leading him to an area where I wanted to ride so he could take a look around with me standing right there holding his hand... um hoof.

Now he will go almost anywhere. Sometimes we have a short "discussion" about it, but he hasn't refused me yet.

chunky munky
May. 7, 2010, 12:21 PM
I have had a few that had the look of buzzards...:winkgrin:

JBCool
May. 7, 2010, 12:29 PM
I'm not sure I want to know what that looks like! :lol:


I have had a few that had the look of buzzards...:winkgrin:

PNWjumper
May. 7, 2010, 05:14 PM
You can develop it about as much as you can in people.

That's to say that it's rare to be able to make a naturally unconfident horse have that "edge" you're talking about. But you can certainly make them trust you and want to work for you. And you can get any horse to take you around a relatively high level of competition. But I think it's that natural confidence and "edge" that makes the difference between the horse that pulls a rail at a funky distance and the one who turns itself inside out to avoid touching the fence.

If you turn it around to people, think about riders you know. Anyone can jump around a 4'6" course on the right horse. But there's a big difference between the person with no fear who's willing to take crazy risks and the person who's natually timid and too scared to go all out. You can teach bravery, but it's difficult to seriously impact confidence (meaning a nervous horse or nervous person will always default to the worst-case-scenario).

I think the true "look of eagles" is typically the result of a wickedly smart horse who's got a bit of an asshole streak and the confidence (and look) comes from that.

Treasmare2
May. 7, 2010, 05:47 PM
Wickedly smart and some a$$hole qualities...love it and yes that is sure part of it. A horse that has that look tends looks right out of the bridle and is often a horse that was born with that quality. It is a rather rare quality. They are often the special freaks...the talented opinated character...the wonderful quirky one. They demand respect to give respect and then are likely to give you their soul. IMHO

Sebastian
May. 7, 2010, 08:15 PM
I think the true "look of eagles" is typically the result of a wickedly smart horse who's got a bit of an asshole streak and the confidence (and look) comes from that.

Bingo!!! :lol: I'm always sayin' -- they gotta be a bit of an asshole to be a good Eventer. And, wicked smart means they usually won't kill you on course. :yes:

Seb :)

PNWjumper
May. 7, 2010, 08:26 PM
And, wicked smart means they usually won't kill you on course. :yes:
Seb :)

AND it means they're smart enough to save your ass when you screw up! :D

forestergirl99
May. 8, 2010, 06:04 PM
Confidence can definitely be taught. However, what will help him be confident in himself is being with someone he trust, so that you can push him to do stuff that will boost his confidence. Its sort of the same idea as being the herd leader. You get his trust, and he will be confident that you will protect him.

My horse was a nervous wreck when we first got him. You put him in the x-ties, and he would start shaking head to toe. Bad shaking. He'd refuse x-rails, tiny verticals, and lets not forget the terrifying ground poles of death. Couldn't touch those either. I spent a while just sitting in his stall, hand grazing him(alone. teaches him that you are gonna be there even when other horses aren't. you have to be the rock in this relationship. not other horses), etc. Just stuff that will help him trust me. Within a week of having him he stopped shaking. A huge part of building a horse's confidence is having them trust you, and you being confident. Even if your doing something that makes you a bit nervous, shove the nervousness aside and fake the confidence. My boy taught me how to do that very quickly. :lol: Unconfident horses really feed off their riders for confidence.

One thing that boosted his confidence was jumping. It really pushed him outside his comfort zone, and for the first 3 or so months we started jumping, it scared the crap out of him. We're talking x-rails and little verticals btw.

Two things that really helped were making scary jumps. Like an oxer with a tarp draped over it or a vertical with full bags of shavings in front of it, and then making him go over them. Help him understand that he can't run away from his fears. He has to face them. It was really an "oh. i guess it really isn't going to eat me, and even though its scary, i can still do it" moment for my horse. Another thing that helped was doing tights turns and stuff to jumps. This was the lesson that made me realize he's gonna shine in jumpers because after that his confidence went through the roof, and he really started to enjoy jumping! He hasn't refused with me in.....months. This is not to say he doesn't get nervous. He does, but he has enough confidence in himself and in me to be able to control it.

And to some of the replies above, I think it depends more on the horse. I'm sure there are some that are unconfident their wholes lives, but since my horse has broken out of his shell, he's certainly willing to take some risks. He's gone over jumps for me when he had every right in the world to refuse. And his personality, instead of being the "scared, lost puppy" has become more of the "i like to be an obnoxious toddler who pushes my boundaries and gives u the 'what did i do wrong look?' as i'm getting yelled at." He's normally very well mannered though.

mvp
May. 8, 2010, 09:49 PM
You guys really nailed the naturally eaglesque horse. But IME, you can change the more modest Nice Guys to a surprising extent.

IME, it takes time and systematic effort on the part of the main person who handles the horse. But it has only two parts:

1) When the horse is too young, scared, clueless, anti-social, too whatever to pay attention to you, you make him think you are the center of the universe.

2) Then you make the horse think he is the center of your universe.

In the second phase, it's about really getting into making your horse feel good, and also relaxing the rules a bit so that he first invited and then eager to "push the envelope" of what's acceptable behavior (usually on the ground, but sometimes screwing around under saddle a bit).

Since you did teach him the rules, he does know where the line is and it doesn't take much to put him back in line. See phase 1. But now you are making him feel so seen, heard and able to mess with you that he starts to confuse himself with God.

It's really remarkable. A horse who thinks he's God and likes you will offer you more than you think he had.

magicteetango
May. 8, 2010, 10:05 PM
I absolutely love this thread. My mare is amazing but... She can be such a chicken sh*t. She's just a timid horse. She won't spook or bolt or anything rotten but she gets herself so wrapped up and coiled. If you really push the envelope, she just goes in reverse (better then her baby trick... let's see if popping up gets me to avoid scary stuff... thankfully that was many years ago, and less than 6 inches from the ground). It can get frustrating.

I'm going to really utilize these tips, I'd love to give her some self confidence.

Sebastian
May. 8, 2010, 10:23 PM
AND it means they're smart enough to save your ass when you screw up! :D


Exactly. INCLUDING the ability to say "....uh, NO!" I like a horse with a healthy sense of self-preservation. :yes: ;)

Seb

JBCool
May. 11, 2010, 11:22 AM
Thanks for the tips, guys. I'm trying to become his "lifeline," but right now, I think he still sees me as the "mean person who makes me do scary things." (Like ride alone). BUT, he is starting to get a little smart-aleck at times, too, so maybe there's hope yet!

JenRose
May. 11, 2010, 11:45 AM
I think the true "look of eagles" is typically the result of a wickedly smart horse who's got a bit of an asshole streak and the confidence (and look) comes from that.

:yes: :lol: :yes:
This is soooo my guy. 17 year old OTTB. Complete ass and smarter than me. Has taken me places I thought my timid self would never go. Been watching out for me for the past 14 years and I don't know what I will ever do without him.

To the OP - I don't know how to teach it. My guy taught me to be brave...I am nervous and timid by nature. Good luck!