A horse needs to have a trusting relationship with its owner. They need to feel safe and comfortable so they could listen to you and not be afraid or aggressive towards you.
But, how to build trust with your horse?
To build trust with your horse, you got to approach your horse the right way, spend time with your horse, talk to your horse, walk together, train your horse through relaxation techniques, don’t rush training your horse, and reward successful training.
How to build trust with your horse?
1.)Approach your horse the right way
You may be approaching your horse the wrong way during training. There are some horses who are afraid of people or animals who approach them head-on.
So what’s the best way to approach them? The best way to approach a horse is by approaching them from the side while avoiding direct eye contact.
As you get closer to your horse, you got to hold your hands out so your horse can sniff you. Also, you can bend at the waist while holding your hand out and avoiding direct eye contact.
2.) Spend time with your horse
When you spend a lot of time with your horse, you can learn a lot about your horse’s personality as well as their behavior. This happens mainly when you spend time watching them.
You can do so by sitting while they are interacting with other horses. They will also become comfortable with you being around.
By being around them, you will also learn why your horse acts the way they do. It doesn’t matter how long the time is that you spend with your horse as long as there is time to do so.
It can be 10 or 20 minutes where you can be grooming your horse or going on a ride with them.
3.) Talk to your horse
Talking to your horse is a very important step to build trust with your horse. By talking to your horse, they will feel more comfortable and trusting towards you especially if you talk in a calm and assertive tone.
Your horse will then know that you are a reliable leader and will follow what you tell them very easily.
4.) Walk together
Another way to gain your horse’s trust is through walking with them especially if you are trying to ride them but they don’t feel very trusting of you.
So, you can walk them instead to get them out of the stable and give them the exercise that they need. You can take your horse out for a walk in the woods leading them by the reign.
By doing so, your horse learns to be comfortable around you as well as see you as a leader.
5.) Train your horse through relaxation techniques
A huge part of building trust between you and your horse is through learning how to calm them down. Never rush this part so your horse doesn’t grow further in mistrusting you and cause you injury.
To successfully make your horse relax and trust you, you got to first get them used to your touch. After letting them get used to your touch, you can use some relaxation techniques to train them if they are stubborn or fearful.
Here are some of the relaxation exercises:
- Getting your horse to let their guard down: In this exercise, you have to first stand next to your horse’s head while you face the same direction as them. Then, you got to hold the lead rope and gradually bend down at the waist with your head down. This will help your horse let their guard down and, with time, they will see that they can let their guard down when being around you.
- Stroke or scratch a hose, but never pat him: Patting isn’t something that horses do in the wild. When you scratch or stroke a horse, it mimics the way a horse might rub against another horse. Also, it is one of the best ways to calm an anxious horse and get them used to your touch.
- Use your index finger to gently stroke your horse’s muzzle: Run your finger through the entire length of the muzzle. This will be very relaxing for horses and has a calming effect.
6.) Don’t rush training your horse
Training your horse is a great way to build your horse’s trust. However, it should be done gradually and with small steps. You got to start with simple training tasks and then move to more difficult ones.
First, you have to start with what your horse already knows and then add training challenges that your horse can learn to do.
If you are training your horse using obstacles, your horse, at first, may not be comfortable jumping over obstacles so you have to let them get comfortable standing near the obstacle smelling and looking at it.
Never rush your horse to jump over an obstacle, let them take their time to be comfortable. If you force them to do so, they can become distrustful towards you.
They may also injure themselves or you.
7.) Reward successful training
When you train your horse to do something and they do it, you got to reward them. Anytime that you do reward them, they will be more motivated to do the training and will want to do it for you.
For rewarding your horse, you can give them treats such as vegetables like apples, carrots, and celery.
Always give the treats in moderation so your horse doesn’t develop the problem of nipping. As a general rule, you can give your horse one to two pieces of vegetables as a treat.
Tips to build trust with your horse
- Protect your space
- Protect your horse
- Provide a focus
- Engage in interactive play
1.) Protect your space
Protecting your personal space helps let the horse see you as a leader that they can trust because you can give them the feeling that you can protect them from anything that out there that is dangerous.
For example, if you are snuggling your horse and you finished doing so, never move your feet back. You got to make your horse learn that they shouldn’t be in your personal space all the time and they are the ones who got to move back.
Also, don’t move your feet when you are going to back your horse. Instead, reach out to them and push them but never move your feet.
2.) Protect your horse
You need to protect your horse from other humans, animals, and objects that can hurt them.
Also, you need to make sure that other horses don’t touch your horse because it can turn into a bad situation.
Because you are the leader, your horse should see you as one. Never let your horse take control and become the leader instead of you because they can make their own decisions that may harm you.
Also, they won’t listen to you at all. Of course, this doesn’t mean that they can’t do something from their mind, no, they can act from their own minds provided that they still do follow you when you tell them to do so.
3.) Provide a focus
You also need to provide a focus in your partnership. An example would be if you are grooming your horse, your focus would be to make sure your standstill.
If your horse moves around, you got to correct them back into the same spot.
So, you got to provide the focus, trust that your horse will follow what you focus on, and correct them when you need to.
4.) Engage in interactive play
Through interactive play, your horse learns to communicate, build their confidence, and get closer and trusting towards you.
Here are some ideas for interactive play:
- Have your horse walk sideways over a pole
- Have your horse do a haunch/forehand turn while keeping their hind/front feet in a hula hoop
- Send your horse over various jumps from the ground
- Get your horse to put one foot on a tire
- Back your horse through a set of pylons or flower boxes
To build trust with your horse, you got to follow certain steps. These steps help your horse understand you and trust you. Your horse needs your time, love, and care so you can have a very trusting relationship with them.
Share your experience. What are other steps that you have taken to build a trusting relationship with your horse?