We adore our horses, but they are big animals and it’s crucial for our safety that they respect us and know not to cross certain lines. This week’s video takes you through some simple exercises you can do with your horse to test and improve their respect for you:
One of the first things you can do to test if your horse is respectful is to move them out of your way before you groom them. To test this:
- Stand at their shoulder.
- Gently bring their head towards you.
- Gently push them away with pressure to their side.
- If your horse respects you, they will yield to your pressure and move away
Does your horse pick up all four feet with ease for you? Here’s some troubleshooting for horses reluctant to do this:
- If all your horse’s weight is placed on the foot you want to pick up, you need to stand at their shoulder and push them gently until they’re bearing most of the weight on the opposite leg.
- Then you slide your hand down the required leg, give a gentle pinch as you’re going down below the knee and they should pick it up for you.
A third test of respect is the ability to get your horse to lower their head. This is a real sign of trust, as when a horse is frightened, the first thing they will do is raise their head to open up their field of vision. I tend to practice head lowering as regularly as I can. For example when they’re being caught, when they’re getting a bridle on, or during hand walking. The best way to do this is:
- Place one hand on the horse’s poll.
- Place another hand on the front of their halter.
- Apply gentle downward pressure.
- Release as soon as they drop their head.
Respect starts on the ground and carries over into saddle. I like to use a rope halter for groundwork. They’re thinner, more effective, and have specific knots that work on the pressure points.
Personal space is another key marker of respect with your horse.
- Practice asking your horse to move out of your personal space by making yourself bigger.
- Puff out your chest and wave your arms sending energy towards them until they respond by moving back.
- They should stay in that space until you allow them to move again.
One more pattern you can use to practice respect with your horse is getting them to move their hindquarters away from you.
- Ask your horse to move in a small circle.
- As you step towards them, they should move their hindquarters away from you.
- They should cross the inside hind leg in front of the other one to show they are soft in their body.
Have a look at the video I made with Kensington demonstrating all these tips in detail and let me know if you find them helpful.
Thanks for watching and happy riding!