Building Confidence With Your Horse
When out for a ride with your horse, you can never be sure what you will encounter. Horses can worry about a smattering of things — anything from a rock on the trail to a dog walking with its owner. To help raise their confidence in themselves and your leadership, preparing them for a variety of situations is vital. This will also provide them with a purpose and decrease the chances of them becoming spooked while out on the trail when something new or strange appears. Here are a few exercises that will help build your horse’s confidence.
When out on the trail, some horses become worried when passing over a log and take to jumping or bursting over the log. This often happens because they are concerned that the log is going to touch their leg. A great exercise to perform is having your horse take a single step over a log and then stop, with just one leg over the front of the log. Then you can have your horse take another step over the log, so the log is in between their front and back legs. This exercise builds your technical skills and teaches your horse to wait, even when something might be close to touching their legs.
Walk Through Scary Objects
This exercise is solely for confidence building and desensitization. The goal is to get your horse used to things that they may not usually experience and have them calmly walk through the objects. Creating an arch of colored streamers and balloons and having your horse calmly walk through these is one of the methods in which you can help prepare your horse for encountering strange objects. Another technique you can use to build confidence is to put two colored fans in the ground and have your horse walk between them.
It is important that while doing these exercises, you are in the mindset to build confidence in your horse. It will likely take a few times to complete the exercises successfully. The goal is for your horse to trust you in situations where they might be wary of something. Keeping this in mind, if your horse does become spooked while out on the trail, it is crucial for you to stay calm. If you overreact, you are reinforcing that the horse has a right to be nervous about the situation. Instead, ask your horse to refocus on the work at hand. This will help reduce the chances of your horse becoming spooked in the future.
This article was originally published at https://medium.com/@lacyhawkins