Create a bond between horse and rider – without riding.
There’s a special connection between us, who spend time with our horses, no matter if it’s during competition, training or leisure. The stature, strength and presence of a horse is inspiring, but a strong bond between horse and rider is never given. A bond is created from the bottom up and requires more than hard work. Horses are safe in environments where they don’t feel like they have to flee from the surroundings – and people. And if your horse manages to conquer its fears, then you can start to work with it. This way, it will be a more fun and comfortable journey for both of you.
“Mutual respect and trust are created in a strong bond and in the context of personal development – whether it’s your own or the horse’s”
6 useful exercises for you and your horse
Mutual respect and trust are created in a strong bond and in the context of personal development – whether it’s your own or the horse’s. But for me, it is of great importance for the horse’s welfare that the horse feel calm and are in the right hands when it come to training. Yes, it obviously requires respect from both the animal and the person training it, but as a horse owner you must be ready to put time and patience in being often in the horse’s presence.
During my time as both a horse owner and a rider, I have managed to gain a lot of experience, that I would like to share with you. Here, you have 6 useful exercises for you and your horse:
1. How to approach your horse
Whether it is out in the field or in the stable, you need to be able to approach the horse passively. Let the horse come to you or meet in the middle and avoid as much as possible going directly towards it. Let the horse smell your hand or head and then just wait for its reaction; If it is interested in you, then the tension will quickly disappear and from there on the horse has the opportunity to feel involved before the training has even started. Keep an eye on the horse’s energy level and adjust to the its behavior. Although you may be looking forward to training, try to “hurry up slowly” and avoid running up the stable or pulling the horse at a high pace. It takes time for the horse to understand what is happening around it. It is a good start to every riding- or training session, that the horse has time to notice the surroundings and your presence.
2. Take a walk with your horse
Most horses can easily cope with trying new things, and if the horse finds it scary to leave habitats, it will be a good idea to try out the horse in non-habitual surroundings. I often do it with horses that have been through a hard training, where a walk around the farm or to the nearest apple tree can give the horse enormous joy. A walk is also an educational experience for young horses who just started training, as most young horses find it difficult to think independently in the beginning, and where you don’t always have the opportunity to have one more horse with you. Here, a walk can increase its self-confidence, but also can help strengthen your ties together by going out on an adventure together. You will also see how the horse reacts under the different conditions, so in reality it is perhaps an educational experience for the both of you.
3. Get to know your horse
Your horse is much more than just a riding horse, so be sure to take the time to get to know it in its spare time. In fact, sitting on the ground and observing; what are the things that get your horse’s attention is actually tremendously therapeutic – also for you. Where does it look? What makes it react? Does it react well or not, when there are other horses in its surroundings? You will get a peak inside your horse’s head, and the experience will help you learn to spot when your horse is happy, sad or scared. If you master the art of observing you can learn to connect with your horse not only during hard work, but also in peace and quiet.
4. Be aware of your surroundings. Your horse is.
Although the horse sometimes benefits from trying out new initiatives, it may well be frightening, although it may only be small initiatives. Studies have shown that horses can feel if their rider or owner is afraid in a situation. Therefore, it is important that the horse feels that you are calm and in control of hectic situations. When the horse is calm, it must also be rewarded so that in the future it understands the “carrot” by a quiet pattern of action.
5. Let your horse give you feedback
If you are training too fast and too hard, it is important that you let your horse show it. It may well be that you just follow the training as you usually do, but horses are much like us people; They aren’t a 100% alike, and also have good and bad days. It might not even like being brushed on its head before riding, and it is just something you have to deal with. You need to do hard work and have patience with your horse. It is the way to go. Start small and then work your way up. It may be that after sometime, the horse will love being brushed on the head. Most important of all is that you observe and receive feedback from your horse, then you will get far together.
6. Read the horse’s body language
Unfortunately, since your horse cannot speak verbally with you, it is your job to understand its body language. Being able to understand each other without saying a word is a difficult job that takes time to master. But it strengthens your ties significantly. Learn to understand your horse by observing its posture from ear to tail. Doing so, you’ll find it easier to see or predict when something is not as it should be.