Spending your holidays watching some magnificent creatures conquer racecourses would have been a fantastic way to grow up. These experiences would have also instilled in you a desire to own a horse, take care of it and form a special bond.
As a child, you were probably not allowed to take part in horse betting, but owning a powerful horse that everybody rushes to bet on gives you an amazing feeling and fills you with pride. Not everyone wants a horse they can boast about during races; some want a pet they can love and make a part of their family.
Now that you have bought a horse, you feel a bit confused about developing a strong relationship with it since riding it regularly does not seem to do the trick. Here are a few other things you can do to improve your relationship with your horse.
Give your horse the freedom to make decisions.
When you greet your horse every day, do not try to force the connection. Rather than you going towards him, let your horse come to you and allow him to smell your hand. When you start walking him, match his pace and do not drag him along. Be relaxed, and that will naturally encourage your horse to feel more comfortable. Only try to increase the speed after he seems to be at ease while walking with you.
Remember to do the groundwork.
The activities you do with your horse on the ground are also as crucial as riding him regularly. Groundwork involves exercises that you do while standing near your horse on the ground using different ropes. Groundwork exercises include leading your horse from the front, walking with him next to his shoulder, teaching him to trust your touches, walking him in a circle, making him lower his head, etc.
Use rewards and positive reinforcements
Positive reinforcement does not necessarily have to come in the form of food and treats. They can be anything as simple as rewarding your horse with the ability to gallop by himself without a saddle once her performs well. If you have discovered your horse’s itchy spots or places where he likes to be scratched the most, you can reward positive activities with some good, thorough scratches. When you bring him his meal, and he seems a bit overexcited, wait for him to regain his composure and then give him his food. Simple things like these can improve your horse’s general mood and make him trust you more.
Familiarise yourself with the latest research
The general methods used for developing bonds with horses were first introduced hundreds of years ago, and though changes have been made, many still tend to follow some outdated practices. With increased discoveries in animal behaviour, the world of science and research can be incredibly beneficial in making you understand a bit more about the way your horse’s mind works. Do not feel hesitant about going online to a site like Pinterest or to a library to read the latest books and papers published regarding horses’ behaviour.
For the longest time, horses were considered a tool for humankind, much like many other domesticated animals. Today people are more humane in their behaviour towards these creatures. When taking care of your horse and interacting with him, try to understand how he feels. Like us, horses also display their emotions, such as distress, pain, joy, etc., in many ways. So when you see your horse’s countenance transformed due to one of these emotions, let him know that you understand what he is feeling and make changes in your behaviour or his environment accordingly.
Do not confine your horse for more extended periods.
Horses are animals designed to survive in the open outdoors, moving around very often. The stalls that are designed for keeping in horses are usually overly restrictive. Ensure that you let your horse out for as many hours as possible and allow him to graze on open fields of grass. Only keep him in the stall in case of bad weather or injuries.
Be the one who takes care of your horse.
If you employ an individual to tend to your horse’s needs, you will be missing out on all the hours you could have spent bonding with him. These grooming sessions, feeding, cleaning, etc. provide the two of you with the opportunity to get to know each other, understand each other’s behaviours and build trust. If you are concerned about not having a close enough relationship with your horse, start taking care of your horse every day. Keep this up until you believe that you have formed a good rapport with your beloved animal.
Buying a horse and riding him a few times every week will not help you develop a good relationship with your horse. To form a strong bond with him, you must tend to his needs and understand his behavioural patterns. Ensure that you create enough opportunities for him to socialise with other animals and give him the freedom to graze in unconfined spaces for as many hours as possible.