How to Build a Better Bond with Your Horse
Building a strong bond with your horse is one of the most enjoyable parts of horse ownership. A strong bond translates to a better state of mind for you and your horse and generally leads to improved performance. If you are just starting with a new horse or are a beginner rider, you might be looking for ways to bond with your horse outside of your regular riding or lesson time. Here are some great ways to build a better bond with your horse.
Groundwork consists of any training done with your horse while on the ground. Building a solid foundation on the ground teaches your horse to respect your personal bubble, build trust, and view you as a leader. If you are a beginner rider or working with a green horse, groundwork is an excellent way to introduce new objects or exercises out of the saddle.
Groundwork does not need to be complex and similar to any other horse training; it should be built upon as you progress. Start with simple exercises like backing, flexion, yielding the hindquarters, and yielding the forequarters. Add in lunging and direction changes to give your horse more of a challenge.
Take a Break from Hardcore Training
Rigorous training sessions can be great and very productive, but make sure to mix up your training routine. This will keep your horse engaged, give a recovery period, and prevent mental fatigue. Excessive training can also take a toll on your state of mind. Adding in some relaxation and playtime for you and your horse can help.
Set aside time in your schedule for different activities like trail riding and long grooming sessions. Trail riding gives your horse a change of scenery and lets them experience new and exciting things.
Notice Mindset - Yours and Your Horses’
Take the time to learn and recognize your mindset and your horses’. Becoming aware of these internal and external queues will let you know when you’re stressed, relaxed, overwhelmed, etc. This knowledge allows you to make better decisions regarding your horse. For example, if you are feeling exceptionally stressed, a relaxing trail ride might be a better choice than a highly focused riding lesson.
The same recognition can be used for your horse. Is your horse anxious? Tense? If they are anxious, consider exercises that will engage their minds and bodies to dispel the anxiety over the current situation. Frustration is another common emotion for horses, especially during challenging training. Noting this and altering the approach can sometimes result in a better outcome.
Grooming & Quality Time
Horses love grooming time and quality time with you. Grooming is a natural way to relax your horse and a great way to spend time with them. Discover their favorite spot, scratch an itch and take the time to learn about your horse over a long grooming session.
Quality time doesn’t just mean grooming. You can spend time with your horse while they are out in the field, hanging in their stall, or just talking to them. This doesn’t have to be for long periods of time, especially with a busy schedule, but a few minutes a day will make a big difference in the bond you have with your horse.