First off I should apologize. Any time I hear the Ten Commandments I can only hear them with Charlton Heston's voice in the King James Version. That's the only reason that picture is here. All joking aside, let's get to the meat of this topic.
Lately my colleague, Sheri, and I have been noticing a lot of upside-down horses. You may have herd them described as ewe or llama necked horses. It's all the same thing. This is a condition that is 100% man made and it can lead to many other issues. Let's take a look at what creates an upside-down horse.
The short answer is it's created by tension on the horse's head and mouth. They have learned to push through or evade the bit mostly due to the rider putting too much pressure on the reins. Many use a tie down, running martingale, draw reins, or a German martingale to get a desired headset. All these "training aids" do is maximize the issue further.
An upside-down horse is a horse that has an over developed underline, and an under developed topline. The horse pushes and braces on the hands, reins, and any aid being used and to do so they must use the muscles on their underline. This is the exact opposite of what we are looking for in our horse. These upside-down horses will be heavy on their front end. They will push their nose out when you ask them to slow down, stop, or back. Sometimes they will throw their head to the ground to evade the pressure. If your horse does any of these things you need to take action to correct this behavior.
The answer to correcting this is developing a light horse with a soft feel. I would first and foremost suggest that you find a reputable trainer and ask to ride one of their horses to know what a light horse feels like. A light horse is a horse that weighs no more than the lead when led, or the rein or leg when rode. They are an absolute delight. You can take a heavy and hard horse and develop them into a light and soft horse, but it takes a lot of time and skill to do so.
How does "Thou Shalt Not Steal" fit into this? Glad you asked. Any time we try to take something from the horse or make them do something by force we are stealing from them. I am just as guilty as anyone else in this department. I am guilty as charged on the account of trying to force a move out of a horse. Guilty of holding onto a horse. Guilty of stealing from the horse. The only reason I was stealing from the horse was because I was wanting to prove something. I was wanting to make something happen on my time. I was doing it for my well being and pride and I had no consideration for the horse.
I thank the Lord for my mentor Melanie Smith-Breidt and her mentor Tom Mowrey for helping me find the better way. It has not been an easy road but it has been worth it. When I say that I have been chewing on this for 10 years I am being honest. It is this year, and this year finally that I feel like I am beginning to understand. Thank God for patient horses!
As horsemen we need to ride in a manner of where we set it up and let the horse find it. That is how the Good Lord deals with us. He sets up life and by His Word helps us find the right answer. He doesn't force us or make us, only the enemy does that. Ouch! The enemy is one who steals. When you are stealing from the horse you become the horse's enemy. Double ouch!
In my Bible Study group we were reading in Romans 8 and read this verse:
"We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." Romans 8:22
One of the gals in my group said that scripture stood out to her and wondered how exactly all of creation groaned. They had several thoughts as in the death of creatures and plants. The changing of seasons was a type of death and groaning. There are several ways we see it. I commented that I see this verse in action every day in the equine world. Every horse that has an issue is always a man-made issue. Every horse that has an issue is groaning with what it has to live with. Every horse and rider that we work with has an issue of the heart and the horse screams it to us every day.
I have said this before and I will say it again. I learned more about horsemanship the year I spend in the scripture studying the horse than I did in any classroom, clinic, or lesson. Don't get me wrong, those are all necessary, but I didn't truly understand horsemanship until I understood the creation of the horse from the Creator's view. If you are unwilling to read the scriptures to just read them, I highly recommend you look at the horse in the scripture. It was an amazing experience for me.
The blessing along with that is any issue that you have in your heart can be addressed in the scriptures as well. When you let the Lord, who is our healer, tend to our heart issues it not only benefits us, but it benefits our horse. If you won't do it for you, do it for your horse. If you want a place to start, I suggest Isaiah 61:1-3 and from there perhaps the Psalms or Proverbs. Let the Lord examine your heart and tend to it. Think about your horse. Have you ever had to tend to a wound of them? If it is a major one, they get defensive and don't want you to touch it. You don't want to hurt them, but sometimes it is necessary to make them better. The same is with our Lord. He is the perfect surgeon. It may hurt, but the blessings will far outweigh the pain, I promise you that.
I challenge you now, to go out with a new understanding of your horse and begin to offer them the right way, like our Lord, rather than steal it from them, like the enemy.