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  • Writer's pictureLouise Stobbs

Start where the horse is comfortable

When we are training we want to set the horse up for success. This might sound obvious but every day people are inadvertently setting their horses up to fail.

Let’s say your horse has an issue with one end of the arena, it may seem logical to take him to the “bad” end and once he has reacted then start trying to train through the issue. Or maybe we have a youngster who we want to start groundwork with, so we take him away from his friends, fly him like a kite to the arena and then start trying to train him. While we eventually want to train our horses to be okay in these situations we can really help ourselves and the horse out by getting the horse into a more relaxed state of mind before we approach an issue.

If we’re wanting to teach a horse emotional regulation and relaxation we are much better off starting this work where they’re already the most comfortable. We don’t necessarily need to go to an arena or even bring the horse in from the field to start training. I often start a bit of work with a horse in their turnout space if that is where they’re most comfortable, especially horses who don’t come in often or have some anxiety about leaving their friends. If I can build a rapport with a horse, help them to understand what I’m asking and start feeling more relaxed, by the time we do leave the “safe” space they are usually much more able to cope. 😌

Sometimes we can think our horse’s groundwork is fine until we encounter the problem area but I have never found this to be the case after working with hundreds of horses over the years, there are always little bits of foundation missing. Once you fix them you will find everything else falls into a place a little easier, even if it takes a little more time and patience to get there. 🐴

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