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Positive Patterns for Relaxation

Travelling and taking your horse out to an event for the first time can be quite a daunting experience. The key to getting it right and having a wonderful time is PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE!!!

In the first part of this series I covered 5 ways to prepare your horse for going away from home, we then went on to look at Loading and Travelling then Settling Your Horse in a New Environment. Following on from this I would like to look at..

Positive Patterns for relaxation 🔄

When you are planning a to take your horse away from home a great part of your preparation is to make sure you know and have practised some patterns that help your horse find calm. These patterns can be on the ground or on the horses back, ideally you would have both in your repertoire 😇

Patterns that I have found effective:-

  • Small figure eight, keeping your horse turning one way and then the other can help if your horse is one that needs to keep his feet moving

  • Hindquarter disengagement, similar to a turn on the forehand, these are small turns that ask the hindlegs to cross underneath the horses body and ‘take the power out’. When a horse gets ready to run they keep their hindlegs ‘base wide’ or engaged ready to spring of at a moments notice 💨 Asking the hindquarters to disengage can be very useful to help a very forward, tense horse to slow down and relax

  • Lateral manoeuvres such as shoulder-in, leg yield or travers. A horse in flight mode 🐎 will keep the middle (barrel) of his body tense and straight, ready to run. Lateral manoeuvres can be useful as they keep the horse bending through the middle of their body so they are more likely to relax.

The first two are pretty easy to do on the ground as well as on the horses back and can be really useful to know for when you need to give your horse something to do to find calm again.

Don’t ask your horse to do something you haven’t practised

The exception to this is if you are under the guidance of an experienced instructor to help you. However if you are on your first expedition from home I would suggest that you stick to what you know you can do easily.

Imagine asking a child to do an exam on their first day at school with no preparation! They would be distraught and probably scared of exams forever more 😨 It’s the same for your horse, try and make your first few outings enjoyable for both of you, then you’ll be in a good position to do more.

Have a plan 🗒

This is really what all of these tips add up to, plan ahead of time what you will do if certain situations come up and if you are going with someone else discuss it with them so you can work out if that’s going to work for you both and how to help each other.

And last but not least - don’t forget to enjoy yourself and, of course, smile 😁🦄💕


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