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  • Writer's pictureLouise Stobbs

Relationship Building

I think most people now value their relationship with their horse and really want to feel they have a special connection. There are lots of training programs that claim to help you achieve this but the ability to control your horse’s feet has nothing to do with bonding. There is so much more to the relationship between you and your horse than what happens in training.

While it is important to have boundaries so our horses don’t feel confused or anxious in their daily life, if the only thing you do when you’re together is drill them and do things on your terms that’s not going to be particularly enriching for your horse. I used to be this person, I thought I needed to correct them constantly and that letting my horses graze/eat at any time when I was handling them was going to make them “disrespectful”. While they were extremely compliant, they were generally indifferent towards me, but now they come enthusiastically when I call as they associate me with nice things. 🥕

How does your horse feel when he’s around you? Are you someone who is quiet and calm, who makes good choices and asks easy questions? Do you perhaps give off a bit of a flustered/frantic energy or become frustrated easily which in turn makes your horse feel anxious? 😵‍💫 Is your horse allowed to have an opinion or do you expect compliance at all times regardless of how he’s feeling? Do you acknowledge him when he tries to engage with you or do you correct him sharply?

We need to learn to be calm, consistent, clear with our timing, in control of our own emotions and observant of their feelings if we want our horses to feel good around us. If you’re feeling stressed, they’re going to feel stressed.

As always we also need to consider if the horse’s needs are being met to the best of our ability. Friends, turnout, forage and freedom from pain. If your horse is content in his daily life, he is going to feel better in himself and in turn be more able to relax and be present with you. 🐎

If we want our horses to want to spend time with us, we have to be nice to spend time with. We need to do things that they actually like when we’re together. Very few of us are able to keep our horses in the perfect setup so there are lots of things we can do to brighten up their days.

Maybe you can hand graze your horse somewhere he can forage a hedgerow or find a safe place on your hacking route where you can stop and let your horse have a snack. 🌱🌳🌾🌸 If your horse is spending a lot of time rugged maybe you can let him have a good naked roll in the arena every day. Start to incorporate some simple positive reinforcement training into your routine if you don’t already. Take your horse for a hand walk and let him sniff and explore instead of sticking him on the horse walker. Just the little things that may seem “pointless” but will make a big difference to your horse in that moment.

Its also great to spend time just hanging out with your horse without any expectations, sit with them in the paddock without asking them to engage with you and see what happens, you can learn so much about them this way.

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