It can be nerve-wracking for anyone (professionals included) to venture off the property with a horse for the first time. This becomes more challenging for novices who don’t have the benefit of drawing from decades of experience. Know you’re not alone – everyone has some doubts, anxiety and excitement associated with that first public appearance. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do at home to make this premiere event comfortable and fun for you and your horse.
Horse help you can read or, or now, listen to
We’re thrilled to have the Preparing you and your horse for the first off-the-property ride e-booklet now available as an audio title. It’s exciting to welcome Susan Kayne to our stable of professional narrators with this one. She’s a horse lover and respected equine television personality with a warm, welcoming way about her that listeners are likely to enjoy. This short, non-fiction book is designed to help you have tons of fun the first time you venture off your land or boarding facility location with a young horse – or a more seasoned one.
Working with the younger horse – an excerpt from Preparing you and your horse for the first off-the-property ride
“While the ground work you apply to building a relationship with an older horse can be similar to activities with a green steed, once you start under saddle time, the approach needs to be different. Young horses tend to look to you for confidence, safety assurances and direction. A seasoned mount with good prior training often automatically assumes the role of caretaker. With a young horse, unless he’s an ‘old soul’, you’ll need to be ready with clear, careful and understanding responses to his concerns so he learns to trust that what you ask will be fair and focused on keeping him safe. What you do in early under saddle lessons will pay huge dividends – or create lasting problems – when you face your first ride away from home.
Many advocate long lessons and human agendas with young horse training. You can create a subordinate with such a strategy that mostly does what you demand if you manage to shut down the horse’s brain, but you won’t get a thinking horse that delights in training.
Few young horses have the attention span or necessary foundation to process what you’re asking for much more than fifteen minute periods.
Sure, if you’re dealing with a strong-willed horse (know the difference between one that is acting out violently in frustration, confusion or fear and one testing your mettle) you need to finish what you start, but if you pick the right lessons for the given day, even with strong contesters, these battles are usually short-lived and, done right, resolved in a way that fosters mutual respect and an associated joy in training.
Don’t expect your young horse to learn ten new things in a day. Pick one issue to focus on that accommodates your horse’s proclivities and mood so you both can walk away happy with the accomplishment. Even it’s just walking thirty yards down a trail head the horse hasn’t seen before, that’s enough. Give him early time being lavished with praise for his bravery and willingness to try and you’ll be amazed at how quickly future lessons progress. Ending the session sooner than expected is usually a better strategy than pushing for more when you’re having a good day.
As you set your sights on moving off the property for competitions or pleasure rides, everything you do through the starting process will influence how your horse reacts to new places. If you work to instill trust, understanding and expectations in a way that encourages cooperation (not compliance), builds on rapport and makes the horse feel safe and honored in a way that includes his input on decisions, you’ll likely be proud about how easily he handles your first ride away from home. Don’t be in a hurry. Surprisingly, you’ll find those early two minute rides put your horse months ahead of those who have been drilled for hours in a matter of weeks. It’s not so much about miles or hours logged – the relationship you forge will be the biggest influencer on how your horse responds to new requests in strange places.”
Reduce your horse’s stress – and yours – with smart ideas you can apply at home to get ready for an initial show, community ride, trip to an instructor’s facility or hopeful fun time with friends. This title can help. Buy it on the Horse Sense and Cents® website or as a Kindle, Amazon, Audible or iTunes edition. It’s under $4 and worth checking out.
If you’ve been a long-time subscriber of this blog, or even if this is your first stop here but you like what you read, I could really use your help. For more than six years, we’ve been providing tons of free, useful and easy to understand information to help make your horse encounters more rewarding. With the addition of audio books, we have the opportunity to earn rewards if our audio books are a first purchase. So, if you’ve been on the fence about signing up for Audible (it starts at $7.49-$14.95 which includes a ‘free’ book each month – our Turning title is very popular here at $19.95, by the way), please consider doing so and making one of the Horse Sense and Cents® titles your FIRST selection. I’d be very grateful. Send me an e-mail letting me know you did and I’ll send you a surprise.