by Jane Savoie
Riding a spooky horse can be challenging and frustrating. You might be more patient with your spooky horse when you understand that horses have survived in the wild all these years because of their natural flight response.
— On the other hand, don’t soothe him by patting him for “being brave” while he’s shying. You’re just rewarding behavior you don’t want.
— Don’t make a nervous horse walk straight up to something scary. That’s the most frightening thing you can do. That’s like asking a horse to come face to face with a cougar when every instinct tells him to flee from danger.
Do’s for riding a spooky horse:
— If the scary object is at one end of the ring, circle in the middle of the ring. Then, as your horse relaxes, gradually shift your circle toward the scary end of the ring. Your horse doesn’t have to eat a whole bale of hay at once. Let him eat the bale a flake at a time. This “slow” way usually ends up being the faster way…and you accomplish your goal with a minimum of resistance and trauma to your horse (and you!).
— When you’re at least 15 meters from the scary object, use your inside rein to gently but firmly bend your horse’s neck enough to the inside so he can’t see it with either eye. Remember, a horse has both binocular vision (like us) and monocular vision where he can see with each eye separately. So, you need to bend the neck enough so he can’t see the object with either eye. He won’t shy from what he can’t see.
— Once you are directly beside the scary object, relax both reins. Many horses are claustrophobic, and you don’t want your horse to think he’s being “pinned” against something with no escape. That’s very scary.
— Don’t stare at the scary object. If you focus on it, your horse will too. Look at your surroundings instead.
— Breathe! If you’re holding your breath, you’ll convince your horse there’s good reason to be afraid. Inhale deeply, and as you exhale, feel your butt lowering down into the barrel of the horse like a centaur.
Are you sick and tired of complicated and confusing training techniques? Are you frustrated by negative emotions like fear and lack of confidence? Would you like to be trained by a Three Time Olympic Coach? Learn how by going to: http://janesavoie.com/