Creating Success with Your Horse
It’s no secret, we love horses. We spend our free time planning the perfect day. Getting up early, going to the barn and spending the entire day with our horse. We get ideas in our head about how the perfect day will go, from grooming to tacking up to riding. I don’t know about you, but most times my perfectly planned day doesn’t always go to plan.
It seems to go that way with horses. We daydream about riding through fields, and having a perfect ride but the reality is that doesn’t always happen.
But in my many years of owning horses I think I have learned the secret to happiness with horses. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment. And practice, practice, practice.
The more time you spend with your horse, the better he will become. You have to set realistic expectations for yourself and your horse. If you force him into doing something he doesn’t want to do, he will act up and you will end up getting into a war. That’s no fun. And the entire reason we have our horses is for fun and because we love them. But if every time you are with him it turns into a fight, eventually you will stop having fun. So let’s not let that happen. Here are a few secrets to help you enjoy your horse.
Build Your Confidence
Start off small. Take something you are good at with your horse, and build on it. If you love to make your horse look great, spend extra time grooming him. Work on having him stand tied while you brush him. If he dances around and gets antsy, work with him to get him to be quiet while being tied.
After a few sessions of this, he will get better. One of my favorite tools that had almost an immediate effect on both of my horses is a rope halter. I like to use the clinician style halter with the knots tied into it. The halter works on pressure points. If the horse pulls back, it applies pressure. When the horse gives in to the pressure, the halter releases the pressure and your horse is rewarded. Pressure and release, this is how horses learn. The halter makes it easy for your horse to understand pressure and release, which is why I love this halter!
With a traditional web or leather track style halter, a horse can pull for days. But with the knotted rope halter, if he pulls, pressure is applied. And when he ‘gives’ to the pressure he is given a release. He will quickly learn how to get the release.
I have done this with both of my horses. And when I got Ethan, a nervous and high-spirited Thoroughbred he had never seen one of these halters. After putting it on him one time, he was a different horse. This one simple tool made a difference in my horse almost overnight. Talk about instant gratification!
You have to build your confidence level one step at a time. And with each success, you can build up to the next level of accomplishment. It is just taking baby steps and building your confidence one step at a time. Your horse will learn to see you as his leader and will trust you even more.
Becoming The Leader
Respect is earned, not given. This is especially true with horses. Yes, you could bully your horse into doing what you want him to do, but in the end you will not be happy with result. You have to earn your horse’s respect. Become his leader. Horses are herd animals, and they need a leader. It’s your job to become his leader. Work with him and build the level of trust he has in you.
This won’t happen overnight, trust me. But over time, he will look to you as his leader. This will help you to enjoy your time with your horse even more.
You need to be consistent with your horse. Having a horse is a commitment. And if you have committed to having a horse, you need to be committed to working with him. If he is a crazed lunatic, you need to work around that. If that means getting professional help, then do that. But most horses will behave better simply because their owner is working with them.
Case in point, Ethan, my horse. I bought him with a goal of making him a jumper. And I know he has that potential. But to get him to that level, I need to work with him, daily. Ethan gets bored easily. And if he doesn’t have a job, he gets into mischief. But when he has a job to do, and I work with him he gets better. However if I get lazy, or too busy, he reverts to his former crazed self. Then I am starting over from square one.
So I have to be consistent with Ethan and keep him working. You can’t expect to jump on your horse and go for a 3-hour trail ride if you haven’t worked him up to that level, and left him in a pasture for 6 months. Be consistent with your horse, and build up to the level you want him to be at.
This is a challenge for me sometimes. I find myself daydreaming about how Ethan will progress, before I put in the hard work. I picture he and I in a jumping round, winning the class.
But I can’t just jump on him and that will happen. No, I must bring myself back to reality, and put the steps into place to get him to that level. This means starting small, and building upon each success. And like I have said before, focusing on those small successes and remembering what that feels like. The more time I spend with him, the better the both of us will become.
A year ago, I couldn’t get him to pick up his feet, or even spray fly spray on him without him dancing around like the spray was attacking him. Now he stands still for all the primping, and he is quiet. When I have something I want to achieve with him, I see the big picture, and then make a realistic plan of how I am going to get him to that next level of success.
And The Secret Is…
The secret to enjoying your time with your horse is to focus on your small victories. Don’t spend your time brooding about the bad things that happen. Make an effort to build on your little successes. Yes there will be set backs, but don’t dwell on the bad things. Yes, there will be challenging times. But try not to get hung up on those times. Concentrate on the good. Did your horse lead willingly with you, or stand for 20 minutes while you groomed him? Great! Think on that! And build your confidence level while you are establishing trust with your horse. If you go slow, and work consistently with your horse you will enjoy your time with him even more.
About Lisa Goodwin
I am horse crazy and love DIY projects, and finding great deals on everything horse related. When I have a new idea, or find a great deal I love sharing this information with you.
You can find me over on my website, Budget Equestrian or catch up with me on my YouTube channel, The Budget Equestrian