Although both can be ridden, and yes, controlled, they are very, very different. For example, if I were to kick a motorcycle really hard right near the back wheel, not much would happen. If I were to kick a horse, however, in this area, I would probably end up lying on my back staring at the sky with little stars circling my head.
Now I bring this up because not everyone is aware that horses have distinct, individual personalities, unlike a machine. They are forgiving or unforgiving, passionate or complacent, lazy or energetic, loving or distant, confident or cautious, etc.
I’ve often heard mothers talk similarly about their children, like how one child had to be grounded for punishment while another just needed a reproachful look, even being raised in the same house by the same parents. They each had their own personalities.
Children and horses alike have one personality trait that can be affected much more than others, I think, and that is their confidence.
I’ve seen a horse that was afraid of leaves and branches morph into battle-like steed with no trace of fear, all by how he was handled and ridden; I’ve seen, too, a usually fearless horse lose her nerve from a scared rider.
I have also witnessed the way children behave when given confidence from someone. It is truly amazing what kids can do and overcome when they know someone who believes in them. I was forever affected in my own life by my father’s belief that “Kate can do anything”.
I recently acquired a horse that has “confidence issues” with jumping. Horses like this can be compared to a scale-if pushed too fast, they will stop and refuse to jump; if left alone, they will do the same because they don’t think they can do it. I’ve found in the past that the best way to deal with these horses is a firm seat and a little extra pressure from the legs, which gives the horse confidence without rushing them. Sure enough, this worked wonders for this particular horse, and in a recent ride he cleared higher jumps than ever without the slightest hesitation.
In my students and even my family, I’ve tried to apply this concept. People don’t like to be pushed or forced, but often need a source of confidence in their lives. By simply believing in someone and letting them know that you do, you can give someone the boost that they might need to take that next step or conquer something they’ve been struggling with.