1. Be There
The more you are there for your horse the closer you will become. Work to build up a strong relationship grooming, tacking up, feeding and bathing them. Those countless hours of bonding will matter when your horse is scared, it will look to you for guidance and trust you. You gradually become aware of your horses signals and habits. Your horse will know your voice and to associate you with structure and security.
2. Hand Walking
Hand walking reinforced ground rules and basic manners to ensure your horse respects you and understands you are the boss. Respect on the ground and understanding what is expected is primary for any horse. This will translate when you are riding, your horse will understand they must listen and wait for your cues.
3. Washing and Cleaning
Grooming and Cleaning is brilliant for bonding, it gets your horse comfortable and relaxed with being touched. This gives you a chance to really check over your horse. If you get to know his lumps and bumps then you become more aware when there are new bumps, cuts or swellings of any kind. As the horses owner you should know what a horse’s body standard is and be aware of changes.
4. Riding with a friend
Horses our herd animals and therefore are incredibly sociable. Riding together with another friend and their horse builds you and your horses’ confidence. It also makes them more comfortable in arenas and open spaces, which they may find scary. If you have a nervous or skittish horse, riding with your friends and their school master horses will in turn calm your horse down.
5. Hacking Out
Horses love hacking out, it is a more exciting experience that every day riding in an arena. The unlevelled ground and hill work which you encounter hacking out helps to strengthen your horses muscles and encourages him to pick up his feet as he walks. This helps to build up you and your horses confidence out in open spaces, trails and woods.
In the wild horses grooming sessions between the herd reinforce relationships and maintains hygiene. Physical contact with your horse usually is tacking up, mounting or squeeze on with the leg or tap with the whip. Therefore we must balance this contact with positive contact. Grooming is a great way to maintain the loving connection between you and your horse. hj hb.jpg
7. Carrot Stretches
Carrot Stretches are not only fantastic for bonding with your horse but it can demonstrate your horses range of movement and flexibility. Is he stiffer on one side or the other? are they able to reach all the way down to their hood? Once you have that baseline of your horses movement you are able to record how it improves or changes over time. If you have a full day competing and the next day your horse is unable to reach its hoof. Wouldn’t it be nice to know your horse is stiff and not uncooperative or naughty? and in turn wouldn’t that make you more understanding and ride her differently ? However carrot stretches should be used sparingly as it can encourage nipping.
Massages are very intimate and personal bonding sessions with you and your horse. A combination or the positive touch of grooming and the body monitoring of carrot stretches. The most important thing for owners who have never massaged their horse is read up and learn before massaging and then be gentle until you understand the pressure points. Massages not only help with bonding but also can show where your horse is sore or stiff and can help you know when you need to call in a professional over certain areas. Massages also help a horse with consistent injuries and after a long time off work.
9. Riding To Music
If you are getting frustrated with your riding, your horses progression or feel like you have plateaued and not improving, why not try something unusual? Riding to music can aid rhythm for you and your horse, loosening your body and allow you to follow the movement of your horse. It also helps to add some enjoyment and fun into a mundane ride in an arena.
10. Turn Out
People believe the chance of injuring a very expensive horse is too great to turn them out into the field. However turnout should be a part of every horses life. They get to roll, stretch and socialise with their field friends, soak up some vitamin D from the sun and play. You get to watch your horse transform and play as it relaxes, unwinds and releases pent up energy. Turnout is the purest form we can have of seeing our horses in their natural environment.