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Posts tagged ‘trust’

Important values in the horse-human relationship: Trust

Personally I think trust is one of the most important values in a horse-human relationship. Without a foundation of trust you don’t have much to built a good relationship on.

It’s easier to love someone you trust, than someone you don’t. That ‘someone’ can be a human as well as an animal. If you trust someone, you can relax in his or her company and rely upon him/her to help keep you safe and not to hurt you.

We can’t learn when we are in fear and our flight-fight response is triggered. The same goes for horses.We learn best when we feel at ease and are relaxed. In other words; when we stay in learning mode.

Trust is not something you can buy (with treats), force (with pressure) or gain quickly. You have to build trust, over time, with your actions. Not with words.

we_trust_actions_hippologicYou want all your actions (handling, training, riding) to contribute to building trust, not to take away trust.

In Dutch we have a saying: ‘Trust comes by foot but leaves on a horse’ which means that trust is built slowly but can be destroyed quickly.

Take this question with you every time you spent time with your horse: Are my actions contributing to building trust or not? If you don’t know the answer, place yourself in his shoes. Observe your horse’s body language, mimic it and see what emotions get triggered. Are you relaxed or tense? Can you still breathe? Do you feel safe or not?

How do you build trust in your relationship and how do you measure it?

_Kyra_en_ik_hippologic
Sandra Poppema, B.Sc.
My mission is to improve horse-human relationships by educating equestrians about ethical and horse friendly training. I offer coaching to empower you to train your horse in a 100% animal friendly way that empowers both you and your horse.
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What’s your horse’s best behaviour?

Today I posted this question on my Facebook page and the answers were pretty diverse and also surprising. When I thought about this question myself I thought back to when I got Kyra.

Kyra’s story

Kyra was 11 months old and was separated from her mom and her whole family herd three weeks earlier. Kyra was born in a nature reserve. (more…)

4 Reasons to start trailer loading today

_trailer loading_hippologicIs your horse a happy traveller? Wouldn’t it be a comforting thought if your horse would be ok being in a trailer? Every time and under all circumstances?

There are many reasons why people don’t practise trailer loading. I’ve heard: my horse is too old, my horse is too nervous, I am not going anywhere with my horse, I don’t have a trailer, I will never sell my horse, my horse is OK in a trailer so I don’t have to practise…

Fun places
Some day you might want to take your horse to fun places like new trails, a demo, a competition, a clinic or take your horse with you on vacation. Or you decide you want to breed a foal and you need to take your mare to a stud.

Moving
You never know if you have to move your horse some day. Your horse can live in the best boarding facility, but things change. That’s life.

Maybe your horse lives at your own place, you never know_corridor_hippologic if you have to sell him or due to changing circumstances he has to be transported. Or you want to take your horse to a pasture a few kilometres away and the road is too dangerous to ride or lead him there.

Emergency
In case of emergency you might have to trailer your horse to go to a clinic. Imagine that you and your horse are already stressed out due to a colic or a severe injury and then you remember your horse doesn’t like the trailer. Or your horse only wants to go in with his companion and refuses to go in alone.

If your horse is not an experienced and happy traveller, trailer loading increases the stress in an emergency situations. I’ve seen this happen. As you know, in an emergency there are always people “happy to help” (force) your horse into that trailer. Emergencies are not situations you want to start practising.

Challenge
If you don’t want or have to go places with your horse, trailer loading can be a fun challenge in your training. Especially for horses who are very nervous in narrow spaces. Consider it another training goal.

A few days of practising and rew_Keylessonmatwork2arding your horse for stepping outside his comfort zone can do wonders. It builds trust you need in other scary situations. Train to test how much your horse trusts you and how good he is in following your directions in unfamiliar situations.

Increase the challenge and ask your horse to self load. If your horse is OK with trailers, but you never travel with him, it can’t hurt to check once in a while if he’s is still comfortable travelling by trailer.

But I don’t have a trailer…
To prepare your horse to trailer load you can train the building blocks of that behaviour separately. Teach your horse to:

    • follow your lead
    • teach him to step onto unfamiliar surfaces (mats, plywood, bridges, water)
    • back-up over poles or back-up from a pedestal (step down)
    • enter a narrow corridor
    • walk under under a tarp
    •  accept the feel of a chain/rope against hindquarters.

I bet you can think of many, many more preparations that can help you prepare your horse to travel in a trailer.

Sandra Poppema

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