If you find that things are not going well in a session with your horse, consider the factors that could be influencing his behaviour, for example:
- is he in pain? (eg injury or uncomfortable tack)
- is he bored? (eg has he been doing the same thing for several days in a row / is he a young horse with a short attention span)
- is he distracted?
- is he picking up something from you or other people / horses in the yard?
In regards to tack, many people are now beginning to exploring alternatives to the traditional options in order for their horses to be more comfortable, and therefore calmer and less stressed.
There are a variety of saddles available, for example:
There are different views regarding which is best and much will depend on your horse’s shape and the type of activity he will be doing. The important thing is to make sure that the saddle fits well and doesn’t restrict movement, pinch or put pressure on the spine or kidneys.
This short video is a good illustration of how to make sure that your horse’s saddle is a good fit: Proper saddle fit
Bits: Veterinarian Robert Cook believes that the bit breaks the horse’s lip seal and destroys what should be a vacuum in its mouth. He feels that as horses are obligate nasal breathers (they cannot breathe through their mouths) exercise triggers a cascade of soft palate instability, suffocation, exercise-induced pulmonary haemorrhage (bleeding in the lungs), and even unexplained sudden death in some racehorses.
Some are even exploring ways to be with horses that don’t involve riding. For example Ren Hurst of the New World Sanctuary Foundation in Ashland, Oregon who has written a book, Riding on the Power of Others, talking about her journey from horse trainer to barefoot trimmer and then to setting up a sanctuary.
Horses are very sensitive to the energies of those around them. It is part of being a prey animal who lives in a herd. They tune in to the others on a physical and an energetic level. It is part of their survival strategy. They also use this ability to maintain peace and harmony within the herd, and with us, if we too tune in and learn how to listen and respond.
Sometimes, however, horses come from an environment where they have not been given any choices. They might have been kept stabled for much of the time or punished when they got things ‘wrong’. This can lead to the horse ‘shutting down’ or developing a condition known as ‘learned helplessness’.
As we start to remove these limitations and fears, the horse can start to push boundaries realising that they are now allowed to say No. This can be challenging for us, particularly if we want to use only positive reinforcement methods and other people are telling us that we are just allowing the horse to see himself as the ‘boss’ and that this will make the situation worse. In fact it is good to encourage your horse to think for himself as it enables him to engage his brain before he responds to situations rather than just being reactive.
However, if you are struggling with a horse who is showing very dominant behaviour I recommend finding a good equine behaviourist to support you.
Also the book A Tale of Two Horses by Kathie Gregory is a great read if you are feeling alone on your journey to try to understand your horse and to work with him to give him a happier life.
The information in this article was taken from my workshops and video series on giving horses a more natural lifestyle and the benefits that this brings, not only to them but to their owners / carers. To see more, please follow this link:
If you have comments or questions about anything in this article, or if you would like to book a session with me, please don’t hesitate to get in touch:
mobile: 07980 669303
You can also read more about me and my work on my website: www.equenergy.com
(Read the full article here)