Dealing with Horses

Good Dealing with Horses

What can you do to treat horses as well as possible? How can you ride safely? What is the best way to walk next to your horse? What do you have to think about if you want to take good care of your horse? These messages are about dealing well with horses and contain a lot of advice, tips, information, and explanation about how to deal with horses.

Dealing with Horses

Exercises with your horse: not a goal in itself but a means of communication

Exercises for your horse, have you ever asked for one? With your therapist, instruction or perhaps stablemate? I regularly get the question if I know exercises that for example:

  • Strengthen the hindquarters
  • Strengthen abdominal muscles
  • Making the horse more flexible
  • Improve the balance

And of course there are exercises that can help, but I notice a reluctance to give the exercises. In the past, I sometimes went to work with customers that way. It just didn’t make me really happy. I missed something in those sessions. But what? 

Exercises with your horse are a conversation

Suddenly the penny dropped: the moment exercises are mainly used to form a horse, I miss something. Then it feels to me that the horse is a lump of clay that we humans want to model in the desired shape. And understand me well: I like to look at beautifully muscled horses who know very well how to use their bodies. I get a kick when my horse finds its balance and therefore can dance through the tank like a tough, strong stallion. With resilience, print, power, and pride. And the exercises are very handy!

But initially exercises and techniques are there for me to start a conversation with the horse:

  • Can you do this?
  • How does this exercise feel for you?
  • Where do you get stuck in your body?
  • Do you manage to relax in your body or does this create stress?
  • Can I help you?
  • Does my body language have to change?
  • Do you need more or less encouragement from me?
  • This exercise builds up or breaks down your self-confidence
  • Do you have mental blockages (for example due to past experiences) or are there physical things that prevent you from performing an exercise?

Which energy fits the exercise?

On the photo above you can see Bazook prancing. I look very broadly at the concept of exercises, and prancing can also be a nice exercise. First of all, I look at the energy that a certain exercise requires the horse. Horses are prancing to impress, impress each other, and you often see male horses often doing it in the game or in combat. You can imagine that this requires a certain attitude and energy from your horse, which is mainly mental. The energy of pride, power, and power. Of course, it also requires balance and strength of the body. You can see that Zook here has a beautiful neck and the back is not hollow. He jumps a little too much forward, so in terms of balance there is still something to be gained, but otherwise, I think it’s a nice picture.

By playing with prancing, for example, I can gauge his energy. If he is too relaxed, or maybe even tired, he does not have the energy to prance in this way. Then he “throws” himself, as it were, on his hind legs, bringing him with a lower neck and a hollow back on his hind legs. The balance is then far to be found, and it does not give that powerful, proud energy either. Sometimes working with prancing calls up that energy. Then it’s a great way to work on the power of the hindquarters and on his balance. And sometimes it just isn’t really there. Then it does more harm than good. It is also a great way to coordinate my energy and communication with him. How much does he need from me? Can I give a boost of energy, without tension? Can he continue to wait for my appointment if he is very enthusiastic?

Why do you want to do exercises with your horse?

You see that I am not only looking at the physical aspect of the exercise. The mental and emotional part is just as important! As long as we use the exercises in a broader way than just the body, I think it’s fantastic. Then we take the mental, physical and emotional aspect with us. I always find it very interesting why you want to do an exercise with your horse? If the approach is: my horse has a weak hindquarter, and I want to fix that, then I drop a bit.

I prefer to see it a bit wider: why does this horse have a weak hindquarter? How much consciousness is there at that place? What happens to the horse when we bring attention to it? Does he shut himself off? Do we see tension escaping or increasing? What happens to the eyes? What is the position of the nose and mouth? What does that tell us? In addition, I find it very interesting to see how the horse is adjusted to my energy. Communication is mainly through intention and body language, and I like to use that in the exercises.

What does your horse think of the exercises you do with him?

So what I find important is: can the horse also like the exercises and do we not do them solely for ourselves? What part of the exercise is mine? Is my energy, intention and body language correct? And suppose a horse gets a lot of tension from certain exercises, his body starts to twist in all kinds of turns or closes himself, are you able to adjust your exercise? Or, do you even dare to let it go for the benefit of your horse? Even if that means that your ambitions might need to be fine-tuned?

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