Communicating With Your Horse

Horse carrots, Good Boy Sailor—Five Furlongs (Flickr.com)Upon first entering the horse world, you may find that you’re unsure of how to act around horses. Horses are big and can be somewhat intimidating, but in reality they are sensitive and kind animals that love rewards and companionship.

Too often, people take horses for granted and stop communicating with them to the extent they should. Of course, communicating with horses can be achieved in a variety of ways.

Communicating With Your Horse On The Ground:

Before you learn to communicate with the horse when riding, the first step is to learn how to communicate with your horse on the ground. When just starting out, you will be expected to only deal with well-trained and considerate horses, however, horses, just like people, have opinions of their own.

  • Leading:The first scenario that will require you to communicate with your horse is leading. When leading a horse, you should walk on the horses left side at his or her head. Polite horses will walk quietly beside you, but those who are feeling frisky may try to surge ahead while a sleepy horse might try to lag behind.When leading, it’s important to remember that your horse needs to keep up or wait for you. When communicating that to your horse, it’s important to be decisive yet calm. A simple tug on the lead rope will usually get the attention of a frisky or lazy horse.
  • Tacking up: Another scenario in which you will be communicating with your horse on the ground is tacking up. Sometimes horses can be fidgety or grumpy when being tacked up. Depending on their training, most horses understand the words, “quit,” “stop,” and “no”. Also, when tacking up, it’s important that you are considerate when moving around the horse’s body; horses are very sensitive.

Horses also love to be rewarded and pampered. When your horse does something good while under saddle, you can say “Good boy,” or “Good girl.” Another way to let your horse know that you’re pleased with them is by giving a pat after a job well done.

Finally, most horses absolutely adore treats. For this reason, treats – like carrots, apples, sunflower seeds, sugar or hay cubes – can be excellent training tools. Not only that, but snuggles and treats are excellent ways to express affection.

Communicating With Your Horse When Riding:

Although horses do know verbal commands such as “walk,” “trot,” “canter,” and “whoa,” most of the communication you’ll do from the saddle will involve aids that tell your horse what gait you want him/her to be in. Furthermore, as your riding career progresses, you’ll be taught more complex aids that your horse will respond to, including aids for collection, bending, and lateral work.

In addition to the physical aids that you will use when riding, horses are extremely sensitive and will often respond to any emotions you may have while in the saddle. Since horses are herd animals, they will pick up the emotions of their leader.

When in the saddle, the horse should consider you to be the leader. For this reason, it’s important to always remain calm and confident. If you act afraid, your horse will pick up on your emotion and mimic it. The best way to calm a frightened horse is to speak soothingly and find your inner peace, your horse will follow suit.

Filed in: You And Your Horse

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One Response to "Communicating With Your Horse"

  1. Jessie says:

    When I was 12, my dad bought me a horse. My mum wasn’t so sure I would look after it but my dad made me promise. I loved that horse! It was almost as though I could understand what he was trying to say to me. I would spend hours with him – these are some of the happiest memories of my childhood. I hope my daughter has an interest in horses when she is old enough.

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