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So, You Think You’re In Charge Now? by Doug Lindgren



Doug Lindgren

Doug Lindgren

Do you ever get so busy that days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months?  I’ve been covered up with too much work to TAKE the time I need with my horses and it’s not good.  It’s not good for me and it’s not been good for my horses, either.  HCR-AZ has been growing the last few months and the horse end of the deal has been taking a back seat.  I’m not complaining, growth is good when you‘re in business.

Let’s get into the topic of this article.

You haven’t touched or talked to me for months and now you think you’re in charge?  I know you can go in all kinds of directions with that statement so let me help you a bit.

Back in the “80’s” I did the Wheat Harvest from Oklahoma to North Dakota.  I was in my 20s and Jody and I had a very young family.  She would stay home with the kids and hold down the fort while I was on the road.  I would get to talk to Jody and the kids once a day if we were lucky.  If you remember, back then the only phone was a pay phone and some towns may only have one, if that.  No cell phones then, can you believe it??  Once in a while Jody and the kids would get to come to the harvest to visit for a few days, what a treat…

A couple of times during the summer I would get back home for a few days.  Here is where the statement you read above comes in.   You have been gone for months and now you think you’re in charge???   Jody would get upset with me because she had been IN CHARGE and everything was going well. She took care of the kids, drove the car, answered the phone calls, managed the home, held down a job and I could go on but you get the idea.  As soon as I would show up I would step in and take over a lot of the stuff Jody had handled for the last few months.  I would automatically step into the driver’s seat, not even thinking that maybe Jody wanted to maintain her role as Chief.

Doug Lindgren Trail RideShe was doing a great job with everything and then I showed up.  Sure, she and the kids were happy to have me home, but I did upset their apple cart.  Every time I would get back from the harvest we would have adjustments to go through.   It was ok, we just had to make our way to whatever was normal for our household and we did.

Now, once again I’ve gone into something and you’re wondering what in the world any of it has to do with horses, horsemanship, and trail riding. Well, there’s a whole lot, so here we go.

You haven’t touched or talked to me for months and now you think you’re in charge???  If you haven’t figured it out, that’s your horse talking and he’s right for feeling that way.

Too many times we head to the pasture or the barn and think we’re going to just grab our horse and go out for a quick ride.  IT’S BEEN MONTHS since you even groomed your horse and now you expect him to be the WONDER horse and do everything you think he’s capable of in a whirlwind format.  The last time you rode ole Dobbin was a couple of days after you brought him back from the trainer and he performed like a champ.  Now a couple months later you think he’s going to do the same.  PROBABLY NOT!!!!

The last month or two Dobbin has been in charge of his life and he’s been doing FINE.  Everyday he’s done exactly what he wanted or didn’t want to do.  He ate when he wanted to.  He lounged under the tree when he wanted to.  He ran across the pasture as fast or as slow as he wanted to.  He was in charge and all was good.  Then you showed up…

You showed up and took him away from; his paradise.  You grabbed him and took him to the barn, saddled him, and then you expected him to work.  Horses that have a choice don’t work.  They would rather stand around and enjoy the day.  You stepped in and took him away from comfort and relaxation.  So, why do you think he’s a bit resentful and doesn’t perform the way you think he should?   I think it’s a very normal response.  Not unlike the response I got from Jody and the kids in the “80’s”.  I got what I deserved and so did you from your horse.

When we want to get something out of our horses we have to be in their lives, all of the time.  We have to constantly build on the relationship we want, and its work for everyone involved.  It’s the same work we have to do when we want to maintain a relationship with friends and family.  If we don’t put in the time necessary we won’t be successful with people or horses.

As we build on the relationship with our horses we have to be aware of what our horses are telling us.  They’ll let you know if you’re doing your job.  Every time you work with your horse he’s letting you know how you’re doing by the way he responds to you.  You have to pay attention to his movement and body language.  Read his eyes, ears, posture and movement.  He is constantly talking, so listen.  If you do he won’t have a problem with you stepping into his world, and he might even let you be in charge.

I have a lot of work to do to get back into my horses’ good graces because I’ve been away working on other things.  I know I’ve got to spend some time with every one of them to let them know I haven’t forgotten them.  I’m going to need to respect them and move forward with the relationship I have with each horse.  I’ll have to listen to them and find out how good we are.

In the “80’s” I had to do the same work with my family members.  I had to put in the time and build on the relationship we had.  The key is to pay attention to what the other party is telling you.

It’ll Be Fine when we work on our relationships and build on what we have; GOOD FAMILY, GOOD FRIENDS, AND GOOD HORSES.



Doug and Jody Lindgren own and operate Hay Creek Ranch, Nemo, SD and HCR-AZ, Oracle, AZ.  Both camps focus on guests vacationing with their own horses.  Doug rides year-around, training horses to be great trail horses.

Visit for more information about both locations.


This article was printed in Performance Horse Digest, Volume 9, Issue 2


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