Assessing Patterns & Routines- How does change feel to the horse?

 First, think about things you do "all the time" with your horse. Pick three or four scenarios to start practice changing your routine and any potential patterns in your own behavior, and as an opportunity to assess your horse's reactions.

None of the suggested experiments is supposed to get you and your horse into trouble. 

What you're looking to assess is if mental resistance appears in the horse if/when you change how he is used to you doing things around him. If he is unsure, what are his emotions like, is he mentally available to her your guidance, and is he physically reasonable? 

Remember as you start with "changing it up"- if you don't address potential initial concerns in the horse, don't continue to keep asking more "new" ways of doing things and then wonder why he may act resistant or physically dramatic. Believe him as soon as he shows any wariness or insecurity. Then address it.

Offering to change the pattern in the small day to day interactions is not a test of if the "horse can handle it" but rather a way to safely assess the adaptability within yourself and the horse.

If there are any "holes," the safe time and place to start changing the conversation, thoughts, and behaviors are not under the pressure of an event that is out of your control. Improving the trust and support in the partnership long before the day of unexpected events allows for less traumatic scenarios for both humans and horses.

Here are a few ideas:

Haltering- Go out to the pasture or stall to halter your horse, call them over, and when you'd normally put the halter on, stop, and leave. Then come back a while later and actually halter them.

Walking out the gate- Change out the direction, body position or breaking down down the way you "always" go out the gate.

Leading- Do so from the horse's off (right) side, or from a distance farther ahead or behind than you normally do.

Tacking- Do things out of order, such as bridle first, then the saddle, and then cleaning hooves.

Mounting- Different locations, different side or perhaps get on and off several times throughout the ride.

Riding off- go to a different spot to warm up, change the direction of the warm-up.

Riding home- head towards home and then turn back as if heading out again, perhaps several times.

If you'd like to contact Sam to help you come up with ideas and training tools for your particular scenario, please check out her Remote Horse Coach Services.

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