Thursday, November 24, 2016

Keep that noise down

Go out in the nature with your horse and play around with him.

"Please can you take all your things when you go out from the indoor arena and not come back. My horse does not concentrate very well when something happens so I try to keep things happening around him to a minimum."

Does this sound familiar? People riding their horses asking and hoping for everyone else and everything else to be as still as possible. Thinking that if their reactive horse just has a very quiet environment it will be easier for them and the horse will stay more calm and concentrate better.

It is like treating a disease only for its symptoms rather than going straight to the bottomline of the problem.

A reactive horse needs movement around him
A reactive horse should be surrounded by noice, movement and different things happening around him. Now I am not talking about an unsettling environment or unclear routines. We should however not be afraid of things happening around our horse. The more things that happen the more the horse gets used to things happening and the less our horses react. If we keep all noise and movement to a minimun the horse will become more and more spooky and at the end we might end up with a horse that is afraid of even its own shadow.

Make him used to things such as snow being thrown at him.

A spooky horse might be in pain
A lot of the time we still think that a horse is reactive because it is in their DNA or because they are thinking in the night that tomorrow when my rider arrives I will be extra jumpy. Horses don't think like that and they don't plan their next day. But react they do. If a horse is suffering from ulcers, hoof problems, a poor back or any other abnormality they most often hide their pain but become very reactive instead. Rather than bucking or rearing the rider off they start staring at everything and become spooky. And a lot of the time we just think that is what they do rather than look for a reason to a specific behavior.

Kiss him often

Species-specific behavior and pent up energy
When a horse is able to live a life that is species-specific we can usually see calm and happy horses. A lot of the time pent up energy, energy that is not used on grazing almost 24/7, hanging out with the herd or running around will come out as bad energy.

In the winter-time I almost always lunge Thor before riding him. Not only because he enjoys running around without me on the back but also because he gets his own body and especially back warmed up before a rider jumps on him.

Nobody said it was easy
I love hacking out and think that all horses should get out and about at least once a week. There are however times that I have thought with Thor that I really don't enjoy our hacks when he jumps in every corner or turns around in full speed. We do however always go out and if he feels extra reactive somedays (eg. when it is very windy) I go from the ground because I feel more secure that way. The more he spooks, the more we hack and the more he stares at things, the more we look at them.

So in order to finish off. Don't treat your horse like they would be cotton balls. Give them a secure environment that is full of joy and laughter. Not only will your rides be much more fun but also more secure. The more used to things the horse gets, the less reactive he becomes.

The pictures are a few years old. Pics by Benjamin Gripenberg.

1 comment:

  1. Taht is so true, do U remember what happens at Staffansberg with Emil?