Too often when training, riding, and working with our horses, we forget to show affection. While this may seem like small part of horsemanship, we need to remember the importance of affection and use it regularly. Horses are not machines programmed to do what we ask. They are living, breathing creatures, choosing to respect us.
Remember To Be Grateful Anyone who has the chance to ride or own a horse needs to remember to be grateful. These huge, powerful, and amazing animals allow us to be around them and ride them. We can show them our gratefulness with affection.
Horses Learn From Affection We all know that horses understand the release of pressure. For example-We ask a horse to back up by applying pressure on the reins. When the horse backs, we release the pressure. This pressure and release cuing is the most effective way of communicating with a horse. However, if we add affection to the release of pressure, the horse feels more rewarded. For example - we ask the horse to back by applying pressure to the reins. When the horse responds, we release the reins, bend down, give the horse a scratch on the neck, and tell him what a good boy he is. This method gives you a deeper connection, a bond with your horse. The horse feels rewarded, motivated, and encouraged. Giving your horse affection also puts you in a better frame of mind. This small step can improve your riding and training by leaps and bounds.
Methods Of Affection Horses are very simple animals, so very simple things make them happy. We tend to over-complicate our rewards. A spoiled rotten horse does not mean a happy horse. A horse does not care how many apples you give him or how much you spent on his new halter. A horse is happy when he is with someone he feels safe and relaxed with. Here are my 3 favorite ways to show my horses affection:
1) A rough rub on the neck with my knuckles. This may not sound very pleasing to you, but it feels great to a horse. If you ever watch two horses grooming each other, or a mother grooming her foal, this will make sense to you. Make a fist and rub your horse's neck in front of the withers. Don't be afraid to press hard.
2) Talking to them in a calm, relaxed tone. A horse can understand your voice and when it changes. Telling your horse he did a wonderful job, and that you love him, is not in vain. They know.
3) Standing with them. This may seem really weird to you at first, but, after some thought it will make sense. Go out in your horse's pasture, stand with him, rub his neck, talk to him, and match your breathing with his. This relaxes your horse and makes him feel safe. When your horse feels safe, he will want to be with you and respect you. In addition, this will help you relax and forget all the stress in your life.
What ways do you show your horse affection? Leave your thoughts below in the comments.
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