I have posted several videos of my horse, Newt, learning how to stand on a box and I have received lots of feedback. Most of the comments are fun, or people have questions about the box, but a few were more bold in calling it 1) unnecessary, 2) dangerous or 3) ‘just a trick’.
In my blog titled What’s the purpose behind getting a horse to stand on a box? I explain some of the benefits. I understand that not everyone wants to do this type of stuff but that doesn’t mean that it is without benefits. I actually think that it was part of the success that I had in teaching my horses to ride bridleless…which also isn’t necessary.
In my blog titled Newt conquers standing on the box…but what motivates my horse? I describe how children, at a very young age, are allowed to play on things like this and even bigger at a playground…but some people feel more of a need to protect the horse. It is interesting to me that a horse or a dog can learn to be responsible. Think of a seeing-eye dog. That is an animal that has been taught responsibility. At some point people, dogs and horses that grow up to be responsible are given challenges, allowed to learn from their mistakes and are held accountable.
That leaves the idea that this is ‘just a trick’, which I happen to agree with.
Teaching a horse to stand on a box is a trick… but when I stop to think about where did I cross that line? Was it ‘just a trick’ when I taught the horse to come to me? To lower his head? To accept the bridle, the saddle, the rider?
Or better yet, lets ask the question: Which of those were not tricks? If you ask the person who cannot catch their horse if catching is ‘tricky’ they may even say yes…and most would happily agree to learn that trick. If saddling becomes ‘tricky’ is it because the horse hasn’t learned that trick yet?
Maybe all horse training is trick training…or maybe if all horse training WAS viewed as trick training everyone would have more fun.