Horsemanship: Tips in Improving the Equine Partnership and Spring Horseback Riding Season

Preparing for Spring Riding Season

Looking ahead to the upcoming riding season, whether you ride for pleasure or are a competitor, you can strive to offer a supportive partnership towards your horse. I will touch on two concepts that you can start considering, without even having to battle the outdoor winter conditions!

The first is addressing your mental focus. Often we think of riding as an escape from the everyday challenges and stresses of life. The horse on the other hand can immediately recognize if the person is not mentally present or if they are distracted, stressed, tired, etc.
 
I suggest folks learn how to mentally “leave reality at the door” when they are heading out to ride. My perspective is that the ride begins when someone thinks about going for the ride. Mentally separating other aspects of life from the time spent with the horse allows a rider to offer the same level of consideration, conversation, and focus they are asking from their horse.



Horsemanship: Tying a Rope Halter Correctly

Rope Halter  Typing Tip

Most people using this type of halter are not tying the knot correctly. Often the halter slips and loosens after a short while. This can become dangerous if the bottom section gets "stuck" around the horse's jaw and he panics.

Another common issue from "standard" store-bought halters is that the pressure points the knots on the halter should sit on are laying incorrectly on the horse's face. Often the cheek section is either too short or long, causing the know to sit above the lower end of the horse's cheekbone, or it too the length is too long, the knot sits in the sensitive soft tissue pocket near the horse's nostril.
 
This makes the halter not only ineffective for the initial purpose but also creates continuous unintentional pressure elsewhere, leading to defensiveness in the horse.

One more time, I don't use rope halters when I'm trailering horses. Especially if hauling long distances, there is continuous pressure and often causes raw spots and discomfort. 




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Misunderstanding Helping the Horse

 The theme of the past few days has been new folks asking for help with horses that are going "fine" and then the horse "randomly" or suddenly stops, or quits, moving forward. 



Improving our Horsemanship

Most folks approach riding with a focus and priority on the human's wants and a whole lot of emotion. 




This filters their perception of why a horse is behaving a certain way, and then they create a "story" around that usually with the plot lot line being them vs. the horse. 

Sometimes out of ego but mostly due to instruction from others. 

When the story is eliminated, the person can begin to have an empathetic approach and realize all of the unwanted behaviors are a reflection of the horse needing clear, specific, intentional communication to help him receive the same support as if in the herd. 

 The horse demands a mental presence from the rider that most people have never even considered. 

If a quality relationship is desired it takes adaptability, effort, experimenting, and follow-through. 

 But those traits are becoming less present in our instant gratification society. So our Horsemanship is a reflection of our personal choices. ❤️🐴🐴