From YOUR HORSE - FEB. 2015
DEVELOP HIS TRUST
DEVELOPING THE TRUST OF YOUR HORSE CAN BE DIFFICULT, BUT HERE TO HELP YOU BUILD A LASTING BOND IS EQUINE BEHAVIORIST GARRY BOSWORTH
TRUST BETWEEN A HORSE AND RIDER IS ONE OF THE KEY ELEMENTS IN FORMING A SUCCESSFUL RELATIONSHIP. THE FACT THAT HORSES ARE PREY ANIMALS AND HUMANS ARE PREDATORS CAN GO SOME WAY IN HELPING TO EXPLAIN THE MAJORITY OF TRUST ISSUES THAT ARISE….. PUTTING SOME TIME AND EFFORT INTO HIS TRAINING, IT'S POSSIBLE TO GAIN THE TRUST AND RESPECT OF YOUR HORSE. tHIS, IN TURN, ENABLES YOU TO DEVELOP A WORKING PARTNERSHIP THAT BENEFITS BOTH OF YOU……
Show him you're his leader
Practice some simple ground exercises…..there are four exercises within this step that you can work on -- start, stop, back-up, and stand……be sure you break any exercise down into small, easy to achieve goals……
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT WHEN WORKING WITH A NEW HORSE - BREAKING HIM IN, OR A HORSE YOU HAVE JUST ACQUIRED. YOU ARE "HOOKING-UP" WITH HIM. TAKE TIME TO JUST DO THESE SIMPLE STEPS, A PART OF SAYING TO HIM, "YOUR WITH ME NOW, AND WE ARE FRIENDS." AFTER SUCH HOOKING-UP EXERCISES, A PIECE OF CARROT OR APPLE IS A NICE WAY TO REWARD HIM. NOT THAT YOU SHOULD GIVE OUT APPLES AND CARROTS FOR EVERYTHING, JUST THE OPPOSITE IN FACT, BUT AT THE BEGINNING OF YOU AND HIM AS PARTNERS, IT'S A NICE INTRODUCTION. SPEAKING OF APPLES AND CARROTS, IT AMAZES ME THAT PEOPLE DO NOT GIVE APPLES AND CARROTS AS A PART OF THEIR HORSES DIET. SOME MIGHT SAY "TOO MUCH SUGAR IN THEM" WELL NATURAL SUGAR MAYBE, BUT UNLESS YOUR HORSE HAS SOME HUGE PROBLEM WITH NATURAL SUGAR, THERE ARE FANTASTIC VITAMINS AND MINERALS IN CARROTS AND APPLES. IF YOUR HORSE IS TOO FAT MAYBE YOU NEED TO LOOK AT HOW MUCH GOOD HARD WORKING EXERCISE YOUR GIVING HIM, AS WELL AS OTHER THINGS OF COURSE. SAD TO SAY WHERE I BOARD MY HORSE, MANY ARE TOO FAT BECAUSE THE OWNERS DO NOT COME OUT AND WORK THEM HARD, AS OFTEN AS THEY SHOULD - Keith Hunt
Give him time
Quality time with your horse is essential. This can be achieved by simply giving him a good groom or by stroking him all over. For nervous horses it can be beneficial to sit in his stable with a book and just read, as this allows his natural curiosity to take over and for him to come to you in his own time.
Make him feel good
Remember to reward your horse when he's done what's been asked of him. A nice rub between the eyes, stroke on the neck or wither scratch are all signals to your horse that he's done something well. Patting can be a little 'high energy' for many horses, especially those who are young or nervous. By saying well done, your horse is more likely to repeat the exercise that got him that reward, which will strengthen the bond and trust between you.
Help him face his feats
Expose your horse to potentially scary objects at home in a safe environment. This could be things like walking him over tarpaulin, under bunting, having a plastic bag on a stick and rubbing it on his body or walking past flags flapping in the wind. Always remember to break these things down into little steps for your horse so you don't overwhelm him. For example, to get your horse used to bunting, attach the bunting to a couple of bamboo canes about four or five feet long and have two people hold them apart so that the bunting is fairly high. Once your horse gets used to calmly walking under this, lower it down a little, and continue to do this until the bunting is slightly above his ears. This way you're not forcing your horse to do it - at every level you have to listen to what he wants to do; have patience and wait until he walks under the bunting willingly.
Be consistent with your horse when handling him. Inconsistency can lead to a confused horse, which will erode his trust and confidence. An example of this is allowing your horse to rub his head on you when you're at home or on the yard but then tell him off when he does this out at a show or event. It's probably best to not allow him to rub on you at all!