Helpful tips on calming a spooked horse

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For novice riders who do not take their horses out into the public for rides, or more experienced riders that just have some issues with a particularly nervous riding partner, here is some help on keeping a calm atmosphere when out on a trail.

A key tip is to act as soon as you notice your horse is slightly spooked rather than letting the situation escalate sending your horse into a panic. Once you notice your horse reacting to an object or situation keeping calm is crucial, as a horse can sense your negative emotions which can cause them to become more nervous.

If you are already riding your horse when it has been spooked try gently petting their mane to comfort them and get their attention fixed towards yourself. It is important to not pull on the horse’s rein suddenly if the situation worsens, as this will shock them and cause an increase negative emotion. Instead try riding with the reins relatively loose but ensuring that you maintain a good grip.

If riding loosely and petting does not work try lightly turning your horse by pulling gently on their rein to change direction, this will cause them to slow and will change the focus of their attention away from the object that is scaring them. If your horse still is not calming shorten the rein on one side a little more so the horse’s head is facing a different direction to its body, causing them to walk in an even tighter circle, reducing their speed and focusing their concentration even more and your horse should eventually start to calm.

If any or all of these techniques work it is ideal to continue the ride checking on your horse to see if they are still calm without making it obvious to them, otherwise you will likely remind them of the earlier incident and possibly rise fearful emotions again. Once the ride is over be happy and positive, act as if the spook had never happened and your horse should feel the same way.

December 23, 2016 |

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