A Three-Step Guide To Being Confident With Any Horse

1)    Be prepared

We all know the saying ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. Approaching riding without taking the time to ensure you have all the safety measures in place opens your equestrian experience up to nerves and worry. It goes without saying that sturdy boots, gloves and a hat are safety must-haves, but body protectors and air jacket can offer additional safety, both physically and psychologically. Understand horses’ body language. There are tell-tale signs that can assist you in judging how a horse is feeling and so assist you on how to approach any horse and so achieve horse-human interactions that will boost your confidence. One thing that can trigger nerves is rushing, whatever you may be doing approach it knowing you’ve given yourself plenty of time to feel calm and 100% prepared. Approach the horse calmly and at a pace that suits you and them, if you rushed for time it prevents you from assessing the situation and carrying out activities in a confident manner.

 

2)    Build relationships

By understanding the horse, you will achieve the first step to building a strong relationship that offers two-way trust and so, confidence in the ability to be successful together. A trusting horse will show willingness and responsiveness, ultimately giving you the ability to be in control and therefore reassure you in your capabilities.  Be consistent, anytime you’re interacting with a horse keep calm and cool, even if things aren’t going well. This consistency will give the horse comfort and let them know they can always rely on you, therefore decreasing the likelihood of them spooking and consequently, scaring you. You may think that success with horses comes down to common sense and natural ability, yes it may help but it is not 100% culpable. A horse naturally follows a positive leader, it’s in their instinct as a herd animal, approach every equestrian experience with an open mind and with the enthusiasm which will help you strive to succeed. On the note of success, every little bit of confidence you gain or achievement you make is something to be celebrated! Never set yourself unachievable goals, approach the situation which the aim of being productive and see elements of achievement as a bonus. Cherish those positive moments and reproduce them every time you engage in an equine practice, leaving any negatives in an imaginary rubbish bin after every experience (easier said than done we know!). The most important thing to remember is everyone has bad days or things that don’t go so well, it’s part of equestrian life, every moment is unique but it’s what you take from it that will shape your confidence and future ability to deal with horses well.

 

3)    Controlling your nerves

Horses can sense and will respond to the feelings of us as a rider, often mirroring the emotion. If you approach a horse with nerves, they will feel the same and it will encourage them to act unpredictably.  Nerves stem from overthinking about what bad things may have, be proactive, not reactive. Trying to think about how you’ll resolve any issue you face will worsen your nerves and distract you from noticing when a situation that may cause your horse distress is upcoming. When riding or working with a horse, focus on that situation then, focus on your surroundings and the behaviour of the horse. Not only will this put you in full control but will distract you from having negative thoughts. This mind frame will grow the confidence you have in your ability to deal with the horse in situations that may jeopardise their and your safety, therefore eliminating any fear prior to the experience.

10 Top Tips for Horse Owners This Fireworks Season

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This time of the year can be very stressful for horse owners! Here are some top tips on how you can reduce the impact fireworks may have on your horses…

1) Give your horse plenty of hay to keep them occupied.

2)Leave a radio on playing music to help mask the noise and keep your horse calm.

3) Double-check you have adequate third-party liability insurance if the worst happens and your horse escapes and is scared they may cause an accident.

4) Always stay calm yourself, your horse will respond to your behaviour.

5)Consider using a calmer syringe a few hours before dark.

6) Stable your horse if possible and leave the stable/barn lights on to mask the flashes. However, familiarity is key, so if your horse isn’t used to being stabled, now is not the time to try!

7) Research where fireworks displays are happening in your area so you’re clued up and prepared!

8) Check the area in which your horse is being kept for potential dangers. Protruding nails, string, anything that when worked up your horse could injure themselves on.

9) Be sure to have all your vet’s details on hand, if the worst happens you want to be prepared, no extra stress needed.

10) Whatever you do, do not risk riding your horse when fireworks may be going off.

7 Top Tips for loading horses

7 Top Tips for loading horses

1. Choose a light and airy trailer to minimize the risk of claustrophobia.

2. Show your horse that loading is more comfortable than refusing by using a pressure halter and your body language, act confident. Don’t go behind your horse as they’ll be uncertain were the pressure is coming from, encouraging apprehension.
If your horse is getting angry and disruptive, calmly allow them to do this by themselves- if we get frustrated it will only further distress our horse.

3. Gain your horses trust. When loading your horse for the first time don’t shut the door, as a flight animal, if they feel trapped their instinct is to escape. Shutting them in this scary situation will fix a negative relationship from the get-go between horse and trailer.

4. Try not to put pressure on your horse, patience is key. Allow them to approach at their own speed, letting them sniff around and check the trailer out will encourage them to work out that nothing bad is going to happen.

5. Horses don’t like small, dark spaces- open all the windows to encourage sunlight and turn on lights is applicable.
Try filling the trailer with familiar scents, put some hay, unwashed blankets or anything else sterile from their stable in there. This familiarity is comforting and will put your horse at ease.

6. Wait for your horse to be curious about the trailer, let them investigate the trailer and accept and reward the slightest try.

7. Try loading a more experience horse first if possible, show your horse that if his buddy can do it, he can.
In the beginning stages of travelling with your horse, once you’ve managed to load your horse successfully take them on several short trips to slowly grow their confidence. When you return from these trips treat your horse with their favourite treat.

Three-step guide to preparing your horse to travel

1. The temperature of your Horse- Post grooming it is important to keep your horse at a comfortable temperature. Begin with a base, breathable rug (good for the summer months as well). For clipped horses follow with a slightly thicker but still breathable rug with one strap so if you need to remove it in the trailer, you can easily. Make sure you don’t use rugs with leg straps if you expect to change or remove them in transit!

2. Tail bandage & guard- If you’ve committed a lot of time getting your horsetail immaculate the last thing you want is it getting muddy and you don’t want it to rub in transit. Making sure the horse is aware, place the tail over your shoulder and working from top to middle wrap the bandage reasonably firmly around. Follow this with a guard if going for a long journey as the horse is likely to sit and rest.

3. Travel Boots- Offering ultimate protection travel boots are quick and easy to put on and off and save your horse prevents injury from the knee to heel when traveling. Be very careful when using hind boots, especially younger horses can be very agitated with this if this is the case try bandages instead!