Help Your Horse Become
Brilliant | Vibrant | Enthusiastic
Having a horse that is just a little off kilter is such a bummer. You know they could feel a little better. Be is little happier with their work. Have a bit more balance emotionally. They are getting by but you know they aren’t their very best. (sigh)
I see horses all the time that are doing “okay” but there are usually a few adjustments that we can make that take them from okay to amazing. Brilliant. Vibrant. Enthusiastic.
You can build mental versatility by giving your horse a chance to use problem-solving skills regularly. One simple idea to get your horse thinking would be to move their food around to different areas in the pasture or paddock. Horses searching for food is natural. Having them figure out where it is and how to get to it great mental exercise. They can gain a ton of confidence and strengthen their problem solving skills. Start simple and work up to complex ideas as they catch on.
Create situations that vary from the standard routine. For example, adjusting training times or rotating turnout spots and times every few days can help your horse to become more mentally flexible and adaptable. Be prepared for them to think through the changes and give feedback, and encourage the communication.
Set up your training sessions on varied terrain. By asking your horse to move at specific speeds while covering a variety of inclines/footings will help them to stretch through the movement and build core strength. If you’re feeling unsure how to design the activities in your training area you will get good ideas of what it feels like for your horse by walking solo around the space taking long strides and short strides at various speeds and directions. Make mental notes of where you feel yourself stretching and what activities require you to engage your core to keep your balance so you can recreate these scenarios with your horse. As your horse goes through the exercise change up the patterns to avoid repetitive motion.
Check your feed and supplement labels. Manufacturers have gotten sneaky about adding artificial flavorings and artificial colorings to products designed for horses. Seems like this one should be obvious but you might be surprised what you find when you read through ingredient lists. Horse’s sensitive bodies are not designed to thrive by eating artificial additives.
Offer emotional support by making sure your horse feels heard. Horses are passionate, sensitive animals, when their emotions are squelched it has a tremendous negative impact on their overall wellbeing. If they have an opinion about something look into it. Even if you can’t change things for every situation just making sure your horse feels heard makes a difference to how they feel about working them. By encouraging your horse to speak up you will be able to gather info you can use to accomplish goals more cohesively.
Support your horse with positive energy. Obviously, our horses pick up on what kind of mood we are in so we can use that to give them a boost of good vibes. By thinking of how far you and your horse have come at the start of each ride it can help keep you motivated and grateful. Your horse will be much more excited to work with a happy person that is aware and appreciative of their hard work.