Relationships with horses, whether for companionship or competition, are complex and ever-changing. This is one of the reasons why “horsemanship” can become a lifelong pursuit: There is always a balance to be struck with our equine partners, and it demands continual growth and understanding on our side. In this book, horsewoman Lynn Acton explains that when the focus in the relationship is on what we want from the horse, his compliance becomes the measure of success, and what he thinks and feels is often overlooked. Is he calm, confident, and trusting? Or anxiously wishing he could escape? His behavior, performance, and reliability—in whatever discipline we prefer or equestrian sport we pursue—depend on the answers to those questions.
Horses want security and social bonds. They want leaders they trust to protect them—not only from danger, but from stress. When we provide this security, they accept our rules. This not only puts us in charge, it makes our leadership more effective because we do not force it on them; they seek it. The result is less anxiety, fewer behavior problems, more efficient learning, and better reliability. Acton refers to this relationship as Protector Leadership because being the “protector” is the foundation. Building methodology based on time-tested training theories that we are often exposed to in bits and pieces, Acton shows why Protector Leadership works and how to make it work for us, fitting the separate pieces together, and illustrating the connections with practical examples of real horses in everyday life.