It is so important to me. Without trust, there is nothing. Nothing can be done, nothing can be achieved. Nothing can be risked or changed or grown without trust.
If you want to work with a horse, you have to earn their trust. Some horses are more trusting than others. Some horses, may never trust a human fully, if they had enough reason to see people as un-trustworthy.
I work very hard to earn a horses trust. I cannot begin to count the hours it takes to earn it, nor the hours it takes to maintain it, but let me make a rough try at it.
Let me use Sanson as an example. I have known him for 6 years but owned him for two.
In the two years I have owned him on average I visited him between 4-6 days a week. let us say I visited 4 days a week to be conservative on average. When I am at the stable, I do not simply pull him from paddock, tack, ride one hour then leave. I spend as much time as I can. On average about 3-6 hours. let us stay with 3 as a conservative average.
3 hours, 4 days a week. 52 weeks in a year. Times by two, thats 104 weeks. Let us take out about 6 weeks for holidays and sick days, again as a conservative average. 98 weeks.
3 x 4 = 12.
12 x 98 = 1176.
One thousand, one hundred and seventy six hours as a conservative minimum I have spent with my horse just in the last two years. It is most likely more than that. That is about 49 entire days spent purely with him.
In my mind, it is not enough.
It takes thousands and thousands of hours to gain the full trust of a horse. There is no half stepping, no short cuts and no special trick to get it faster. Sanson trust me pretty well, but still, I can see room for improvement.
What you can accomplish or not, with the horse is in direct relationship to the amount that horse trusts you.
I believe trust is more important than techniques or methods of training. If techniques are so important, how come that you can have two people, with the same horse, on the same day, doing the same technique and getting totally different results? One may argue that one person performs the technique objectively better than the other. But I have boiled down certain techniques until they are so basic in their mechanics that anybody can perform them correctly… and yet I can get one response from the horse and someone else gets another.
This element is the thing that most interests me in horses. That ‘thing’ that goes being what we can see, hear and touch and moves into the metaphysical.
We can call that many things but I believe TRUST is its foundation.
The horse has to trust you, that what you are asking is true, helpful and good.
And the person has to trust the horse that they will make it.
For me personally, it takes me a long time to fully trust another person. And another person can easily destroy the trust they earned with me. I wish I could be more forgiving and more trusting but unfortunately, too often people have given me reasons to the contrary. If I know you, and you have said one thing to me and another thing about me to someone else, and I find out, I put a strike through your name until further notice. Should I be more easy going? Probably? Do I have good reasons to have strong boundaries with people, yes.
When people tell or show you who they are… BELIEVE THEM. Believe them the FIRST time. Do not wait until the betrayal happens the fifth, sixth or seventh time.
So when I meet a horse who has a problem trusting me, a problem acquiecing to a simple request because they just do not believe I am taking them somewhere they can manage… I understand. I understand how hard it can be to let go of your boundaries you built to protect yourself.
I also understand how good it feels when you find someone you can trust, someone who you know has got your back and how much more generous you feel about them, how much more willing you can be for them.
Please ask yourself, how willing is your horse for you?
Will your horse go somewhere they are not confident about, but will go there anyway, because they trust you when you say, ‘You can do it!’