Helping Your Horse

Find out how you can help your horse to learn.

From "AQHA's Fundamentals of Horsemanship"

Conquering His Fear

A frightened horse will find it extremely difficult to learn because his is constantly on the defensive and ready to act. His actions are more reactions than responses to the rider's demands, and they may even be dangerous for himself and his rider.

The horse can learn to accept new things if his teacher gains his trust and respect, and here we see the vital difference between tolerance and acceptance. A horse that accepts a new situation remains relaxed; if he merely tolerates it, his stress level will always be on the verge of pushing him over the limit, and there will be a constant threat of danger.

The horse may even become introverted, and his next reaction could be surprising or dangerous. In the chapter on desensitization, we will see how to help a horse conquer his fear. This is one of the first phases in a horse's education so that we may later ask him for respect without fear and obtain positive responses without negative reactions.

Earning Respect

Difficult horses often lack both trust and respect. Fear makes them want to escape from what they feel to be danger. This reaction can have serious consequences, such as pushing, shoving, knocking over the handler or kicking.

The horse must learn to respect your personal space. By controlling his movements, you will let him know who is leading the dance.

If you're finding this article helpful, there's plenty more where it came from. Check out "AQHA's Fundamentals of Horsemanship" books and DVDs for even more training advice.

A series of exercises will teach you how to move your horse. You must control his forequarters in order not to be pushed, and his hindquarters in order not to be kicked. This procedure affects not only the horse's physical behavior, but also his mental and emotional state. Tiring the horse out and concentrating only on the physical aspect can have very adverse effects over time. The horse must gain confidence and respect before we can pay more attention to his physical development. An imprisoned criminal who exercises every day will use his energy and become physically stronger. However, with no attention paid to his mental state, he will remain not only dangerous to society, but also physically fit and stronger.

During the foundation stages the horse's development should be in the following order:

  1. mental
  2. emotional
  3. physical

Developing Connection

Connection is the invisible link that unites man and horse. It is not a physical link, but the result of mutual interest and constant attention. This connection allows us to be present not only on the horse's back, but also in his mind. It makes the horse feel secure because he is aware of it. It allows him to base his relationship on an exchange: he does not simply submit to use, but is present and involved in the partnership to the same degree as his rider.