Create the perfect bond with your horse

Create the perfect bond with your horse

Building a solid partnership is the foundation for a successful relationship with your horse. With many riders heading out to summer competitions, there’s no better time to strengthen your bond and Bridleway has got some great tips to help you.

The best place to start is to make sure he’s happy and healthy. Are your horse’s physical, mental, social and emotional needs being met, both when you are around and when you aren’t? He should have access to forage and fresh water at all times and, ideally, equine companions who he gets along well with, too. Regularly turning him out in the field will be beneficial, but if prolonged periods in the stable are unavoidable, consider stable toys or licks to provide mental stimulation.


Do things he enjoys

All work and no play makes for an unhappy partnership. Take time to do things that your horse considers fun – you may love dressage, but, if your horse likes jumping, he’ll really appreciate it if you get the poles out every once in a while or maybe take him cross-country schooling. This principle doesn’t just apply when you’re in the saddle. Spend time doing things that can’t be called work, such as grooming or taking him for in-hand walks. Summer is the perfect time to do this, when long, light evenings mean you can spend more time at the yard with your horse.


Focus on the positives

It can be very easy to notice things that your horse does wrong, but how often do you praise him for doing something right? It doesn’t have to be a big achievement – even something that you might take for granted, such as him standing still while you mount, is worthy of praise. When you’re around your horse, make an effort to think ‘yes’ to yourself whenever he does something good, and reward him for it. You’ll probably be surprised how frequently you do it. If small, positive actions have a pleasurable result, he’ll be more likely to want to please you when it comes to the big stuff.


Calm down

Be a person who your horse wants to spend time with. In the same way that your human friends don’t want to be around you when you’re bad-tempered and abrupt, this sort of attitude is unlikely to encourage a closer bond with your horse. Even if you’ve had a bad day, make an effort not to get frustrated or lose your temper when you’re at the yard, as it will only make him nervous and undermine his confidence in you. Instead, aim to be somebody he can rely on.


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