Assess your horse - the Confident Horse

Is your horse tense and scared? Or is he confident and playful?

Answering these simple questions will give you a lot of information on how to successfully train them. If you’ve owned your horse for any amount of time, there’s a good chance that you’ve found some techniques that work for you either because you’ve used them in the past and they’ve worked, because someone else has helped or a bit of trial and error.

If you have area’s where you’re still struggling then it’s helpful in the first instance to break down what’s going on and what emotions your horse is feeling about the whole thing. Horses are one big bag of emotions, they are programmed to be sensitive to the emotions of other horses and anything else around them. Most of us know that when we get angry or frustrated is usually when our horse becomes the least compliant!

Last time we looked at the scared horse, now let’s look at the other end of the scale the confident horse, these one’s are commonly labelled as stubborn, naughty or aggressive... characteristics that are typical for these one’s are:-

  • Tossing their head

  • Biting

  • Mouthy

  • pulling away on lead rope

  • non responsive, difficult to move

  • Bucking

  • Planting/napping

This list is by no means exhaustive or exclusive to a confident horse, some of these behaviours can also be attributed to a scared horse too. How do you know? Look at the rest of your horses body language, what do his eyes, ears and nose tell you? How does he hold his head and tail? Tension in any of these areas might indicate that the behaviour is due to fear.

Any adverse behaviour that cannot be attributed to fear or pain is a sign that your horse is not mentally engaged in the task you want them to be.

The confident horse thrives on variety and will get bored easily, they are often better hacking out than in the arena as there is more to stimulate them. For these horses you need to be smart about how you train them. They need to feel that it’s in their interests to do the thing you want them to do. I’ve learnt more about psychology training these horses than any other type as they are a real mental challenge! Learning what motivates them and how to reward them is vital.