Cheerleading and Coaching Horses

Here is a simple concept you can use that will immediately change your relationship with your horses.  It will also help with your spouse, children or the person behind the counter at the convenient store.  It is the recognition between cheerleading and coaching.

When I am working on a horse I tell owners the difference and the immediate improvement of the horse’s behavior brings positive remarks from everyone who tries it.  No you don’t need to go back to the house and get into a short skirt or pants and tight sweater.  You don’t need to purchase a megaphone or learn dance moves.  All you need to do is shift your thinking.


It is natural for all owners to want a perfectly cooperative horse.  As soon as the horse makes a move that is not what you want it becomes natural to try to control the situation by instructing the horse to behave better.  This is what I call coaching.  It comes in two forms.

The first type is direct or instruction coaching where people bark something to the horse in an effort to control and receive the correct desired behavior.  “Stand up!”  “Stand still!”  “Behave or I’ll…” “Move over!” And the many other things said often ending with an explanation point.

The second type is assurance coaching.  Included are “It’s alright.” “It’s OK.” “It’ll be over soon.” “He won’t hurt you.”  Not only are these examples of assurance coaching, they are also lies.  Quit lying to your horse.  The horse says, “There is a strange man in my stall with a steel file in my mouth and you’re telling me it’s alright!?!?!?!?”  The horse goes on saying, “Let him stick this steel thing in your mouth and I’ll coach you that it’ll be OK.”  

What is really happening with both of these types of coaching is the owner is raising their energy.  If you feel the horse or situation is getting out of control you will naturally raise your energy.  If you don’t like dentistry yourself then you will raise your energy when seeing dentistry on your horse.  If the procedure or practitioner is new to you then it is natural to project your anxiety.  If the horse is displaying unwanted behavior, many owners become worried that the professional working on the horse will think less of you as a horse owner – embarrassed.  Or worse, a past event occurred where the so-called professional became un-professional responding with violence.   Whatever your reasons for it, coaching your horse is directly proportional to your rise in energy.


Cheerleading is the opposite of coaching.  It is a representation of your belief in your horse to do the right thing.  It is empowering for the horse as he either hears your words or feels your positive energy.  Examples of cheerleading are: “What a good horse!”  “I knew you could do this!”  “I’m so proud of you!”  “Your the best!”  “Thank you!”

It is OK to slightly lie here because the energy you are sending is positive.  But if you don’t feel comfortable lying then DON’T SAY ANYTHING.  Silence is a huge motivator for a horse that wants to please.  But more importantly, being silent allows the horse to concentrate on what the professional is trying to communicate.  Personally I cannot hear anything someone says to me if 2 people are saying something to me at the same time.  If you and the professional are talking to the horse simultaneously the horse gets confused and doesn’t know who to listen to.  You MUST release your desire to be in control and allow the professional to do their job – or find someone else to do it.

The next time your professional is working on your horse try these 2 things.  Don’t say anything to the horse.  But if you do, only cheerlead.  You will be amazed at the result.

By the way ladies, coaching is known to men as “nagging.”  And no one likes to be nagged.  Try instead cheerleading and see the positive results!  “You’re my man!”  You’re the best!”  “I couldn’t think of anyone who could do the job of mowing that lawn cause if there were a lawn mowing (snow shoveling, gutter cleaning, etc) olympics, you’d win the gold medal.”

Seriously ladies try it – WITH SINCERITY – and see what your horse / man does in response.  And yes this works for all spouses, children, parents and the person behind the counter at the local convenient store.

Y’all are the best!  Doc T