Each horse has its own thoughts. These thoughts guide every decision that a horse makes. When working with a horse, a person is constantly asking that horse to be willing to let go of its own thought and yield to the requests it has been given. Problems occur when a horse is unwilling or unable to let go of its own thought when being handled. I focus on creating a responsive horse through helping it become comfortable with letting go of its thoughts. You can think of a thought as an interest. If we can successfully get a horse interested in our interests, then we have a willing partner at the ready.
We can also consider the requests we make of our horses to essentially be questions. For every question that I ask of a horse, there is a right answer. I strive to set up situations that allow the horse time to search for that right answer. My goal is to help the horse find the right answer by rewarding the slightest “try” and then build on that horse's efforts. Consequently, every right answer that the horse feels good about builds confidence in the horse which creates a responsive horse, not a reactive one. This is vital to establishing a safe working relationship between horse and rider. The result of this pattern is a horse that “thinks its way through” situations throughout its life.
More important than what we ask of our horse is the way we go about asking. If horses are asked in an abrupt manner that has little meaning to them, they can end up spending much of their efforts attempting to escape from us. And even when they are not in the process of escaping, they are making plans to escape. This is a counter-productive use of our horse's efforts. I want my horse putting all of its efforts into going with my decisions, not working against them. I find that many horses spend most of their lives escaping from their rider's request and in their own mind they are just surviving the moment rather than being in the moment.
If the horse is confused about the request and has an inability to calmly search for the correct answer to our request, his fearful nature will come to the surface. If not handled correctly, it can quickly escalate into a dangerous situation. A horse does not want to have to react in the way that it often does when scared, but they do not see that there is another choice. For those of us who choose to spend time with horses, it is our responsibility to make our requests clear and obtainable to our horses. ~Ty Haas