Here are a few things to remember when playing with your horse:
* Ground work is essential and comes before riding. This builds communication, confidence, and respect that is essential for safety in the saddle.
* Emotional Fitness. Learn to control your emotions, especially anger. When we lose it, we lower ourselves in the horse’s eye as a competent leader. This comes with time and is harder for some than others.
* Do what other horses do. Take time and just watch horses interact. I learned so much about being a good leader by watching Grace.
* Respect and Learning is a two way street. Horses learn from humans and vise versa.
* Don’t use mechanical force for control. Tools should be minimal and afford discomfort rather than pain. Fear will overcome pain when a horse is scared. Remember, the brakes are not in a horse’s mouth, but in his head.
* Spend time just being with them. Set aside time to just sit with them while they’re eating, be involved with their play, gently stroke them while they’re laying down; Anything that doesn’t include an agenda.
* Don’t make them stand still. When a horse feels he really needs to move, we allow that. However, it is on our terms and we may ask them to circle, go backwards or sideways. Eventually he figures out it’s easier to stand still and it is his idea. They learn it is their job to stand when needed and this has led us to be able to do everything at liberty. This includes hoof trims, baths, grooming, saddling, wound or medical care, sheath cleaning, etc. Even the colts learn this at an early age.
* Be upfront with what you are doing. Never try to be sneaky when dealing with your horse. They always know and then lose trust in you. We don’t hide halters behind out backs, bride them with food, or tell them something will not hurt when it will. A good leader can be trusted.
* Put principles to purpose. Once something has been learned, find a job or task to put it to use. Horses get bored very easily and just like us want a reason to do it.
Make it fun not work. Use your imagination to incorporate obstacles, turn some music on and have Fun. Your horse will appreciate it.