We are very privileged and excited to share this post with you from the lovely Victoria Brant of Diary of a Wimpy Eventer
My top 5 tips for building a solid partnership with your horse.
By Vic Brant aged 31 & 3 quarters (aka Diary of a Wimpy Eventer)
Pat and I have been together now for 6 years, in that time we have developed a bond that is very strong and like no other I have ever had with another animal. We know each other, I know how he is likely to react in most situations and he knows what frightens me and does it anyway 😊
Getting to know your horse is of the utmost importance, not only to help you understand how to manage him and ride him in the most effective way but also, so that you can also learn his vital signs and know when something isn’t quite right.
Nice to meet you.
First impressions are very important, it is likely that the horse you buy will have already formed an opinion of humans (assuming he is broken in to ride and not a feral field pony). Try to establish what that opinion is before you get on him. Work out how he likes to be approached. Pat, for example, is VERY wary of anyone approaching him head on with a hand or head collar, in the field, you will have no chance of retrieving him if you got full frontal… he WILL b*gger off! So, approach him from all angles and allow him to see that you can be accommodating of his needs not forcing unnecessary issues.
Keep in mind that a horse’s opinion of humans is a generalised one and whilst you might be a very nice, obliging human, the ones he has encountered before you might not have been. Spend a bit of time quietly sitting in the stable, I like to let them sniff me and snuffle about my pockets for food, I think it allows him to know that I am a safe option in a world of scarier ones and if you are always seen as the bringer of food, you will be favourable above sniffing his own droppings.
Working the land
I won’t get all carrot stick and halter on you, but please understand the importance of instilling trust through groundwork training. Horses require a leader. FACT. They are not predatory animals, they are flight animals and on a whole, they would much prefer a leader to show them the way. Use pressure and release to teach backing up, walking at your side (not powering off) and turning, Don’t get too reliant on titbits though, there is a very fine line between trust training and having a bitey pony.
Up you get
When you’ve started ridden work, always try to balance learning with things they enjoy or find easy. If you always work on things that he finds hard, your trust will start to dwindle. I like to do 10 minutes of stretching and transitions with lots of praise and then 10 minutes of lateral work which makes him a bit tense and confused at times, finishing with the final 10 minutes of bending and stretching again. I think it’s important to make the work you do more relaxed and easy than it is hard and progressive. Of course, if you are aiming for Tokyo, this might not work for you!!
Don’t boil over
My most important tip of all is to be happy, try never to lose your temper with your horse, he doesn’t feel the same emotions as you and will never have meant to intentionally p*ss you off or make you cross. Don’t EVER take your emotional frustration out on your horse. If you feel the blood rising, get off, pat him and leave it for another day. Respect is paramount when building a good solid relationship with your horse.
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