One of the most common things I run into when working with people and their horse is, oftentimes trust issues from the horse therefore trust issues from the people. When working with a horse, we must first gain their trust and respect. Neither can be forced upon the horse. It has to figure it out on its own.
Sometimes, we try too hard or push the horse too hard to accept us. Our relationship with our horse has to be a slow go. In some horses they get it pretty quick, others, not so much. It’s usually the not so much horses that teach us patience. Patience and laughter are the only two emotions we need to have around a horse.
Taking it slow doesn’t mean we have to be so slow it looks sneaky. What is usually sneaky is, a predator on the hunt. We want our horses not to see us as a predator in that sense.
When moving around horses simply move normal. The way you would on any occasion. Any quick movement could startle the horse and any slow/sneaky looking movement could cause the horse to get a bit worried.
When I am trying to gain the trust of the horse, I don’t want it to feel threatened in any way, so simply rubbing and grooming the horse won’t be all I need to do. It’s a great place to start. But, as time goes on I will need to start introducing different stimuli to the horse to help the horse gain more confidence. Help him gain more confidence in itself and more confidence in me as its leader. A leader of our herd of two.
Some things I would probably begin with, depending on the horse, is maybe something as simple as a plastic bag on the end of a stick. I’d gradually introduce it to the horse until I can rub the horse all over with it and it can tolerate the noise as well. (Gradually is different from slow, in this sense).
I may want to help the horse walk over a plastic tarp spread out on the ground. This can be a very scary obstacle for the horse. I’ll always allow the horse determine when it’s ready to get on the tarp. I, in most cases, would take the horse to the tarp and then away again. This is called advance and retreat. In me doing it this way, each time the horse goes toward the tarp it has gained a little more confidence. The last trip didn’t hurt it so it will go again and maybe a little closer this time. I would do things in this manner every time I introduce the horse to something new until it begins to trust me that I won’t get either of us in trouble. The horse will begin to trust in my leadership. I develop a communication with the horse doing things this way. If you have questions, please contact me.