Building Confidence in Horses

Let’s get real here, we are riding an animal that weighs approximately half a tonne and has a completely different idea of reasonable behaviour than you do! You can be happily enjoying a chilled hack out or a nice schooling session then 🐎💨


You don’t really need me to tell you that horses are wired differently to humans and that they see things very differently too! The question is what do we do about it? 🧐


Domestication has done it’s part to help our horses be less spooky and less challenged by the life we ask them to live but even so.


Did you know that all horses have a degree of claustrophobia? Some more, some less.Did you know that horses are designed to be sensitive both by hearing and visually to movement? That’s why they don’t like wind!! 🌬


Successfully building confidence in a horse follows these 5 distinct steps:-

  1. Advance

  2. Retreat

  3. Reward

  4. Rest

  5. Repeat

If you watch horses look at something they are scared of in a pasture, they will all look, then the bravest of the bunch will take a few steps towards it, stop and re-examine the situation. If it’s really scary they might all run away then start to advance again, until eventually they are having a good old look at whatever it is.


We can use this exact process in training our horse to be OK about something they’re scared of. Whether you are riding or on the ground depends on your confidence but it really doesn’t matter, the process is the same...


1. Advance


This is your first step and is also where you find out how reactive your horse is likely to be to the thing he’s scared of so go carefully!! If you are not confident in the saddle, start on the ground.


Assuming it’