Relationship Riding Blog

May 15, 2018

Keep it Simple

By Barbra-Ann King

May 15, 2018

I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful weather.  I swear I can see the grass grow!

Another thing I notice popping up is riding instructors/horse trainers. Although they may advertise themselves with a different “edge”, they use methods and techniques that all have the same foundation based on domination, whether physical or psychological. Any fear-based response is not unlike a dictatorship, not the best foundation for a lasting relationship.

The beauty of the Relationship Riding method lies in its simplicity.

There are no levels to complete, modules to finish, hours of practising in order to see results. You simply need to be your horse’s leader and that’s it. No matter what discipline you ride, no matter what breed or how old your horse is, the matter remains the same: ALL horses need a good equine leader.

To become that leader, all you need to do is know how to stand up for your personal space while being respectful of your horse’s personal space. You integrate this in your regular routine of leading, grooming, tacking up and riding. It works all the time, guaranteed, because the way we show our leadership qualities is based on natural horse behavior and is similar to how they show leadership amongst themselves.

We often tend to take bits and pieces of various different training methods that we like and put it all together to create something that suits our needs. This is not something you can do with the Relationship Riding method because it is not a training technique, it is a language, the way equines communicate with each other and establish herd dynamics.  The most important thing to a horse is knowing who the leader is. That is because the herd leader is responsible for keeping the herd safe, finding food, water and shelter. Horses do not naturally want to be a leader, it is a hard job that comes with a lot of responsibility, but if need be they will take on the role. Before handing over leadership to another horse (or human), that candidate must prove themselves to be the better leader. You must be clear and consistent. But most importantly, you must communicate with horses in their language and not imposing your interpretations on them.

Every leadership exercise, like the one described in my previous blog, is based on what horses do naturally. Because it mimics their natural behavior, they get it right away. No amount of training is necessary. We are not training horses, we are talking with them. This respectful conversation allows us to accomplish the most magical moments with our horses without running them around in a round pen or spending hours practising getting them in a trailer.

The work I hear most often when people watch me work with horses is “magic”. I can take a very high strung horse and completely change him within minutes. But once you know what I am doing, you can quickly understand that I am proving myself to be an equine leader and my horse has accepted me in that position.  No dominance, no aggressive behavior or language. No loss of patience. Just plain communication with good intentions.

If we were to compare Relationship Riding with other techniques, the difference would be that we do not “teach” our horses how to trailer, bend and be supple, jump, stand still while mounting, do flying lead changes and the list goes on. Your horse already knows how to do all of that (watch them playing in the field and you will be amazed at how high they can jump and how graceful their flying lead changes are). We need to have such a great relationship that when we ask them to change leads, they do it because they understand what you are asking. Following you into a trailer or when leaving their herd behind is a piece of cake when you are their leader. They will naturally follow their leader.

We are conditioned to think that our horses cannot “perform” unless we spend countless hours “teaching” them how to do it. Believe me when I say that it can be simple and easy and no amount of continuous training is necessary.

Sounds too good to be true?

Come experience it for yourself, it truly does look and feel like magic. Contact us at or visit our website for upcoming events and clinics. We allow spectators in our clinics and are always available to answer any questions you may have.

Enjoy the journey!