Do you believe that a horses reaction to everything are a result of training, his innate personality, or both?

Hi Stacy! Jac is doing amazingly well. Seriously, my jaw drops when I watch him perform. I have to ask, do you believe that his reactions to everything are a result of your training, his innate personality, or both? I can only think back to some of my horses, and going down that empty aisle of curtains would have been daunting. As would walking into a new, empty arena. I had some seasoned, 12-year old horses that would be fine in competition, wonderful in the warm-up arena, but going into the big ring alone to just warm up was one spook after another. They also would have panicked being entirely alone in a stall like Jac’s – especially after hauling for so long next to their friends in the trailer. I mean, heck, some would get upset if they were tied to the opposite side of the trailer, or couldn’t see their buddy in the adjacent stall. Sometimes I am convinced it could only be training, but then again, I started a colt a couple years ago whose third time being ridden was at a horse show and he was calmer and paid better attention to me than my mare of 3 years!.
Do you have ways of building up confidence in horses that are less sure of themselves? Or do you believe that for the flightier horses, the best thing you can do is simply exposure?

I think both the training and the innate personality play a part. Jac is naturally very confident but the tricky part with him is getting him to view me as the leader. He has a tendency to think he is the leader.

Roxy was very timid. She would ‘attach’ to a strange horse in the length of one trailer ride. She stressed out so much at her first few shows that she lost her tail hair!Jac smile

The answer with both horses was to get them to view me as the leader. Going about that process changes because the confident horse needs to know I am strong enough to lead him and the scared horse needs to know I will lead…but won’t scare him.

Both horses will benefit from exposure. If you look back at Jac in Episode 28 when I ponied him into the same arena he tried to climb on top of Newt when the clapping started. I chose not to ride him at that time because I knew he didn’t view me as a leader strong enough to trust me under that pressure. As I have worked to train him to a higher level he is also viewing me more as a leader.

Even if you look back to Episode 14 you will see Jac questioning my leadership. When he thought the ‘ball’ was the answer he almost ran me over to get there…which was disrespecting me directly. I had to be more firm with Jac’s personality type pushing through my space than I would have been with Roxy even though they both would have required correction.

I hope this helps shed some light on the subject. It really could be an entire book to answer the question! I suggest you keep looking for this ‘thread of thought’ through the blogs and videos. Once you find it you will have the key to understanding how to be a true leader for your horses.


  1. Sydne on April 25, 2014 at 3:47 am

    Thank you Stacy for mentioning that part about leadership and pointing out how long it took even you to gain Jac’s and Roxy’s acceptance. I’m a novice to horses and working with them, and working with my mare isn’t always easy as for a lot of things I still have to rely on her guidance. But we’re working on it and knowing what you said makes me more confident that with time we’ll get there!

  2. Brigitte Sellers on April 25, 2014 at 2:21 am

    I believe both

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. Lesia Lowe on April 24, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Stacy…could you go and look at Episode 11 and tell me what Jac is doing @ 7:17 to 7:22???
    it almost looked like he was thinking about taking a “nip” at you……… “leader question”??

  4. Renée on April 24, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    Love your blog Stacy. I have standardbred racehorses, have been involved with them my entire life, over 30 years. So I have had a lot of interaction with intact horses. In my experience, what you describe is for the most part simply indicative of a stallion, I have found that they will never succumb regardless of temperament. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good stallion, nothing like their sheer power and raw ability, but it is something you always have to be watching for and working on. It is their nature to be the pack leader and they will constantly look for avenues to re-assert themselves as that leader. But even with the extra work to keep that in check, there is nothing better as a partner. Tough, rugged, and able to go for miles! Handled properly a good stallion is hard to beat!

  5. Betty Fox on April 24, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Personality , is a big help in training, the better the personality is the easier they are to train.

  6. Laurie on April 24, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Very clear way of explaining it. I event at a fairly high level on a very confident mare and walk a fine line on the leadership issue as in many ways I count on her more as an equal partner to get me safely through often challenging cross country courses, yet she needs to feel that I am confident in what I am asking her to do. It is an interesting line to walk, as sometimes our safety depends on our mutual trust and her ability to problem solve some tough jumping questions, and at other times she needs to defer to me, particularly in the sandbox (aka dressage ring!)

  7. John Baird on April 24, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    I agree Miss Stacy. Even though a horses personality does play a part in little quirks or problems, the leadership issue will help solve any issues without taking the horses personality away. – John Baird Horsemanship

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