In this article I am going to explain how you can help encourage your horse to be a horse and build his/her confidence in work and life in general. This is about the exact opposite of what you will commonly hear in the horse world. Instead of explaining how to force your horse to obey you using bits, ropes and equipment, I am going to explain how you can encourage your horse to the point where he gives you respect because he loves being with you. These exercises are to be done with consistency, lightness, joy and precision without nagging. While some may seem simplistic, when done properly they have an astounding affect upon your horse and you as well. 

 ~First of all think about how you view your horse. ~

  Do you see him as your friend and partner or as a means to getting what you want? If you do not see your horse as a friend then fix the way you are thinking first. The goal here is to achieve harmony and enjoyment for both horse and rider.

~Second you lead your horse.~  

Sounds easy right? Pick a rope and pull on it until your horse walks with you? Wrong.

For this exercise you will want a 10’ minimum length rope, (20’ is better if you can find one), a well-fitting halter and a medium-long lunge whip.

To begin you will face your horse and using your energy and a smile invite your horse to come with you as you walk backward. If needed give a clear signal with the lunge whip. It is very important that you DO NOT pull on the rope! Let it slide through your fingers.

Once your horse is following you walk forward normally beside your horse still keeping the line loose giving your horse at least three feet of rope, maintain eye contact with your horse as much as possible. Encourage with the whip using clear fair signals, if your horse drags behind (Make certain YOUR energy is up. DO NOT expect your horse to have energy if you are feeling like a bum.)

To stop, simply lift your hand up in front of your horse and stop in your body. (COMPLETELY STOP, do not take another step until your horse stops as well.)

    Practice walking and stopping without pulling on the rope as much as possible, this shows your horse that you can be the leader without nagging and that you trust them with responsibility of following you loosely.
            If you encounter issues remember to relax, be patient and consistent. Your horse will thank you and respect you for it.

~Third you touch your horse with purpose.~

    There are a few places you can touch a horse to increase the horses trust and confidence, the neck, the legs, under the stomach, and at the base of the tail.

            To do this properly, make your hands gentle and slow. Be reassuring with your touch. Be slow, steady and relaxed as you carefully stroke each area. 

~Fourth and last for today, make every motion around horse purposeful.~

Do NOT flail about. If you are with your horse be mindful of what is going on. Do not expect your horse to focus on you when you are thinking about yesterday’s football game or how you are supposed to pay the bills. This is the time you have set aside to be with your horse. So be with your horse.  Relax, have fun, stay composed and enjoy this special time.