A Softer Side of Horsemanship

You shouldn’t coddle your horse like that, he won’t respect you. You need to be tough with your horse; he’s not a pet you know. ou shouldn’t kiss your horse, that’s a sign of aggression. Does this sound familiar?

Have you heard these statements by well-meaning horse friends, barn managers and trainers alike? It’s frustrating to hear these comments when the purpose of getting a horse was for the deep companionship you yearned for. You may have experienced when you were a kid a carefree loving time with an older horse and you are seeking that again. Or you’ve dreamed of owning a horse and now that the kids are grown you are ready to fulfill that dream. But what’s the right way now, what’s the latest? There’s so many “ways” of being with a horse and they all seem to work in one way or another, but you want to be your loving self while together with your horse in a deep trusting companionship–is it possible?

As someone who loves to extreme trail ride fast, bitless, and in an English saddle, I really need to have a trusting companionship with my horse, but I also want my horse to be my pet, too. I found a balance using a softer side of horsemanship that applies mutual respect and herd leadership. Mutual respect involves courtesy. I will not force myself on a horse, instead I will ask. I will ask if I can rub their neck, scratch their shoulder and always ask first if I can rub their face–imagine someone walking up to you and rubbing your face with a big toothy grin, no wonder most horses shy away in that moment or go blank as they disassociate. Herd leadership is the understanding that the horse is genetically wired to require a herd leader at all times, even in your herd of two, you and your horse.

This is as simple as he who moves the other’s feet first is in control. It is genetic instinct for a horse to submit to the herd leader who is moving the horse’s feet whether horse or human. No gimmick or gadget is needed to control a horse’s feet as it is a simple matter of teaching a horse to back-up with just a jiggle of the lead rope. All this takes time, but another favorite saying, the long way is the short way, has proven over and over to work.

You and your horse will meet your goals, but it’s the journey that matters. How you get there (the journey) will determine whether your horse will be standing next to you when you fall off or will run away and keep running leaving you alone. 

Missy Wryn’s Training the Whole Horse video series is available FREE online at her website Watch FREE Horse Training Videos and her YouTube Channel WholisticHorseWoman (

Internationally recognized horse whisperer Missy Wryn provides comprehensive horse training, horse management, and effective communication workshops, clinics, and presentations across the country and at her Zen Barn in Estacada, Oregon. Missy’s Training the Whole Horse video series is FREE for viewing with no sign-up, no membership by visiting Missy is also the creator of the All-In-One bitless bridle, founder of IRON FREE RIDING, Sisters of the Saddle, the B Horse Club and the Equine Support Center for Fibromyalgia. For more information visit Missy’s website at or call toll free 888-406-7689.






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