Horses always have what they consider “good reasons” for what they do or don’t do. Their reasons and choices may not seem like good reasons or choices to us, but in their minds the horses are positive they have good reasons and choices. Our job is not to argue with them about their choice or the reason for it, but to give them a better reason to make the choice we prefer or need them to make. Unless we can softly and gently offer them what they consider to be better options, and at the same time consistently create gentle and effective consequences when necessary, we cannot expect their behavior to improve – and most often it will get worse.
Dear Miriam, it sounds like you have a nice team and are doing well with them. I’m thankful you contacted me rather than assume that your team, with a history of only carriages and wagons, would be able to handle an abrupt and sudden change to farm equipment. The reality is that they might accept the unfamiliar noise, vibration, and other differences just fine. On the other hand, they are equines, and being so are prone to becoming concerned, stressed out, and overwhelmed by things unfamiliar – especially things that move and make noise. The very nature of equines as a timid fright/flight animal causes them to be predictably suspicious and fearful. It is always best and safest to introduce anything new or different to them very carefully and gradually.