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Horse Facts and Tips
First Posted: Apr 7, 2011
Mar 25, 2015

Trail Riding and Handling Encounters

We all know that horses are fight or flight motivated. When they are scared or feel threatened that is their preprogrammed genetic choice. When we ride it helps to be able to try to over ride that ingrained response. The following video is helpful in explaining the importance of having control over the movement of your horse's feet. I was always told that "he who controls the horse's head, controls the horse," however, the feet are really important, too!

Simply, when training your horse for anything:

  • Expose the horse, slowly, to a variety of situations.
  • Expose the horse, slowly, to a variety of sensory stimuli.
  • Build a trust bond with your horse.
  • Move slowly around your horse.
  • Be confident around your horse. They can smell fear.
  • Give gentle praise and reassurance.
  • Do not push the issue, go slowly!
  • Use a horse's buddy who you know is not afraid of what you are trying to teach. Let your horse watch.
  • Keep reintroducing the situation or object to your horse.
  • Let your horse sniff the object.
  • Let your horse see the object.
  • Let your horse touch the object.
  • When introducing an object, keep your fingers together. If you present with your fingers apart, like a claw, horses will often feel threatened.
  • Let your horse be a horse. Gently guide him to accept.
  • Eventually be able to rub the hand held object all over the horse's face and body.
  • Do NOT lose your temper!
  • Only use positive reinforcement: Reassuring, gentle voice tones, treats, gentle pets or strokes.
  • Learn patience! It is really hard!
  • Keep your sessions to under 20 minutes.
  • Always stop on a positive note. Your horse should always have a feeling of accomplishment not failure.
  • Horses are quite comfortable with repetition.

For More Information on Riding Safety:

Common Horse Trail Riding Pitfalls
Bombproofing, Desensitization and Sacking Out Horses
Horseback Trail Etiquette
Trail Riding Safety on Horseback
Hobbling A Horse

Horse Facts and Tips