How to calm a tense horse

Riding or even leading a tense horse can feel like being with a ticking bomb, if anything happens you’ll be headed across the arena fast! 💣💥

This doesn’t make for a nice relaxing ride, and can mean that your world gets smaller and smaller as you desperately try to control or avoid all the things that could possibly set your horse off!! 🥺

Horses are naturally scared animals they live on their nerves and emotions. Their primary safety mechanism is to run away so tension can happen when that is restricted in any way.

Unfortunately our primary safety mechanism is to control a situation and want to stop so we are opposites in what we think is safe. The horse wants to do exactly what we don’t want and we want to do exactly what the horse doesn’t want

How do we get rid of that tension and teach our horses to be calmer and more chilled about life…

1️⃣2️⃣3️⃣ Rhythm & Relaxation 1️⃣2️⃣3️⃣

Whether on the ground or on the horses back the first 2 scales in the scales of training are a great step to achieving a calm horse I like to call this 'Relaxation in Motion'.If you can teach your horse that relaxation is what you want and reward it then your horse is more likely to look for it and start to enjoy being there

Horses learn when you stop doing something so if you stop when your horse is still tense then all you’ve taught him is how to be tense for longer. However, if you stop and take a break when your horse has found some relaxation, you’re on your way to a consistently calmer horse 😇

Signs that your horse is finding relaxation in motion are:-

  • Head lowering and neck relaxing, even for a moment means he’s trying

  • Blowing out through his nose (not excited snorting!!!) mean’s he’s starting to breath more deeply

  • Swinging tail, starting to relax and swing through the back

♾ Changes of direction ♾

For some horses just riding in one gait to find relaxation in motion doesn’t work at all and get’s them more and more wound up. These are the ones that end up doing the ‘wall of death’ with arena surface flying up in clods!! 🐎

For these horses changes of direction work really well as they allow them to move their feet but keep them focussed. If you make your circles really small they don’t have the opportunity to get faster and faster.

These small turns can be done on the ground or on the horses back. As your horse relaxes you can make the circles bigger until you can go for longer without your horse speeding up or getting worried.

👯‍♀️ Sideways or lateral moves 👯‍♀️