You are out on a ride with your horse. All is going well until suddenly your horses head goes up and he slams on the breaks. He becomes completely rigid and you start to hear his heart thumping. And you think to yourself….Uh Oh! Which is all you have time for because the next split second, your horses instincts has taken over and he bolts.
How many times have you heard of this or something similar happening? Or perhaps you have been there yourself? I know I have! Why is this such a common thing with horses?
Horses are flight from fear animals – if something looks scary, they will run first, think later…And yes…we want to ride these animals!
Every time we hop on our horse, we are putting ourselves at risk of getting into this situation where the horses instincts take over and we get into trouble. So what can we do to stop this from happening? Get a different bit? Use tools to keep their mouths closed or their heads down so you can hold them better? These are some answers, and are very commonly used to solve the problem of horses bolting or misbehaving, but the biggest hole I see with these tools are that they are only designed to stop a certain action from happening. Plus they use strength and force to make that happen. All things that are disastrous to a horse that has gone into flight mode.
If you are looking for more long term answers, ones that get to the root of the problem rather than just stopping the symptoms, I have 3 things that you can do that will save your skin when out riding your horse.
1. Develop your partnership
Your leadership is something that your horse will always be testing and something that you should always be working on. Ensuring that your horse feels safe and knows that you are looking out for him will go a long way to your horse choosing to listen to you rather than his own instincts when something unexpected happens.
2. Teach your horse to be braver
A confident horse is a safe horse, yet we are always conditioned to ‘not scare the horse!’ causing us to back off whenever our horses start to get worried about something. However, if you can start to take your horse outside of his comfort zone, and keep him calm, then you can help him to adapt to change and helping your horse to be able to think his way through pressure situations is going to keep you safe when it matters the most.
3. Get control of the back end of your horse
When riding, most people focus on controlling the horses head, or their front end yet when you look at the fact that all the horses power comes from his hindquarters, it’s not hard to know which end you need to have control of. When a horse gets worried about something, they will get ready to run by powering up or engaging their hindquarters. If we can take the power out of their hindquarters, or disengage their hind, then we effectively have control of their flight response and of their mind.
Next time you go out for a ride on your horse, are you going to accept that you have to ride the instinctive, flight from fear animal, or are you going to ask for help so you can learn to put the preparation in first to build your horses trust in you, confidence in himself and have his mind working with you rather than against you?
I can help you do that.
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