Horses are loyal, outgoing and playful. There is more to bonding with a horse than merely feeding, grooming and horseback riding. Effective horsemanship requires building bonds with the horse and developing strong relationships between owner and horse with quality time. Interacting with a horse can be entertaining for both the horse and caretaker.
- Train the horse to respond to a pull on a lead rope.
- Teach the horse tricks such as bowing, lying down and hugging.
- Horses enjoy showing off their talents. Instruct the horse to walk, trot and then canter to a preselected spot.
- Surprisingly, horses often enjoy games such as tag and learn to play quickly.
- Play hide and seek with the horse. Run ahead and hide behind the barn. Stay in position until the horse finds you. Then run to another hiding spot. Each time the horse finds you offer lots of praise and affection.
- Build your own confidence by working in unison with the horse.
- Horses appreciate a good belly rub.
- Learn to listen and communicate with the horse by picking up on the horse’s signals.
- A large exercise ball substitutes as an excellent soccer ball. Horses may be taught to kick and chase the ball.
- Reward the horse with treats, love and praise for good efforts and accomplishments.
- Instruct the horse to come to you upon command.
- Take the horse on a hike and walk beside the horse. Allow the horse to lead the way.
- A game called, That's My Space, can teach a horse to see the human caretaker as a leader. When a horse is grazing, the owner should walk over and claim the patch of grass by standing on it. The horse will move to another spot to graze. Continue the process allowing a few minutes between each move. Increasing your body size and movements should persuade a determined horse to move. Eventually the horse will learn that if they accepts human leadership, they can share the grass space as well.
Photo is courtesy of Sioux Play Dead by Pete Markham at Flickr’s Creative Commons.