Your Horse has a Comfort Zone too!!
Oh not comfort zones again I hear you say!!! Yes Lyla we all know that we have to get out of our comfort zone to learn something - seen the diagram a million times!!!
OK, so that’s great but what about your horse? He’s learning too, does he need to get out of his comfort zone?
This might not be a very popular theory but the truth of the matter is that for your horse to learn something new he needs to get out of his comfort zone as well. To train the horse well we need to minimise any stress as much as we possibly can and encourage the horses natural curiosity and enthusiasm where possible.
Minimising stress 😬
Depending on the training scenario the first and in my view most important thing we can do to minimise stress is to make sure that the horse is physically capable of what we are asking. Directly relating to this is that our equipment (saddle, bridle etc) fits properly.
So many training problems come about because horses are in pain or discomfort and they trying to tell us in the only way they know how. If we don’t listen then they have no choice but to shout! 🐎
Assuming that this is taken care of then the next way we minimise stress for the horse is to break things down into manageable steps, understand each step in the process and don’t expect too much too soon 1️⃣2️⃣3️⃣🤓
Let’s take a horses first saddling experience as an example. This is a potentially stressful event for a young horse as he won’t be used to having something strapped to his back and round his barrel.
So how do we break it down into easy stages? 🧐
If it hasn’t already been done then I usually start by having the young horse wear a rug for a week or so prior to saddling. This gets them used to having something attached to them that follows them wherever they go! 😱
From here I would get them used to me holding a soft rope around their middle. I wouldn’t tie it so I can easily slide it off if the horse get’s worried but play around with it, make it a little tighter or looser, move it around and hold it while they walk around me so they get used to the feeling of something all they way round their barrel.