In my work with horses I have two keywords – calmness and trust. The way I see it, everything is possible if these two aspects are present. A horse who is calm will have the mental capacity to try understanding what you want. A trustful horse will try even though he is insecure, because he knows that you will take care of him and support him. That is why I spend a lot of time with these two parts. I work my way towards trust and calmness in many ways, but I will now share some of them with you.
Walks side by side
Walks side by side is one of my favourite things to do. You get the opportunity to experience together on equal terms, and usually both horse and human will be more relaxed than while riding. Walking side by side is like going for a walk with a friend. You will be on the ground to support your horse if he gets insecure, and he will be able to hide a little behind your shoulder if he is afraid. Walks side by side is great bonding and it evolves trust as well. Besides it can be really relaxing for both horse and human, while nothing is expected or ordered. Just two individuals exploring the world.
Environment training follows automatically when you go for a walk, it could be meeting cars, other horses, bicycles or people with dogs. Nevertheless I think that it can be fun and rewarding to be creative in the pasture or arena too. I have tried with different obstacles myself, and some horses react more on obstacles than others. Some of them are listed below:
- Tarpaulin to walk across
- Pallet to stand on or walk over
- Curtain of strips to walk through
- A narrow passage to walk alone
- Mattress to stand on
- Small jump
Only creativity will stop you here! I see several great things about doing environment training with my horses. First of all your horse will become less reacting to terrifying or new things. Secondly overcoming these obstacles will build up the self-confidence of your horse (especially insecure horses will reward from this). Lastly overcoming these obstacles WITH your horse or convincing him to do it will make him trust you. He will then figure out that if you say it is okay, then it is okay and he will not be hurt.
Oh gosh… Peaceful moments. I will never get enough of them! I believe that it is gifting for horse as well as human to just be together. Not doing anything. Just being present. Some horses prefer to be close while others likes a little distance. Some likes to just sleep by your side while others prefer to be rubbed or stroked. No matter what you or your horse like it is nice to just forget all about everything for a moment. Horses are really good at being present, and we should be too. Sharing a peaceful moment together once in a while will also show your horse that being together doesn’t always means working. It can mean peace and calmness as well.