8 Ways To Easily Reduce Your Horse’s Stress
A tensed horse will be extremely difficult to ride or mount. You will need to calm it down if you want a pleasant ride. You have to be in sync with your horse to reduce its stress.
Horses are very responsive animals. You need to consider two vital factors here. First, you need to understand your tense attitude will affect your horse adversely. Second, while handling a tensed horse, you need to follow specific rules to not end up spooking your horse.
With all that said, let’s first talk about the importance of maintaining relaxation for a rider & a horse:
Importance of Relaxation
You & your horse are a team. So, both of you need to be calm & relaxed to get the best out of a ride. Here is why your horse should be relaxed whenever you are riding it-
A consistent rhythm
Steady trot & canter from your horse
Balanced & synchronized tempo
Responsive to the rider’s aid
Smooth & balanced transition
Overall, a stable & decent harmony between the rider & the horse.
Tensed Rider's Symptoms
Remember one thing. A horse can even feel a fly sitting on its back. So, think about what your horse will do when it finds out you are nervous. Hence, you need to understand the symptoms of a tense rider-
Upward movement of the seat & away from the horse
Non-parallel movement of your hips to horse
Unrelaxed buttocks because of anxiousness
Holding the reins too tightly
The jaw is too tight
Tensed Horse's Symptoms
It’s vital to read your horse’s body language. Your tensed horse will show signs of desperation sometimes. You can try making your horse consume high-quality horse calmer to have a long-term positive effect.
Let’s move on to the symptoms that a tense horse shows-
Trembling or shaking
Suddenly bolting off
Frantically walking because of stress or anxiety
How To Tackle Rider's Tensions?
As a rider, your first & foremost duty is to remain calm & confident. To get a hold of your anxiety, follow the below-mentioned tips-
1. Get a Grip on Your Thoughts
Whatever you are feeling will show with your sitting position on the seat & saddle. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure your body position isn’t exhibiting any tension or fear.
Every horse is different, but they are all sensitive & flight responsive. Control your emotion at all costs. Get your body & buttocks aligned with the horse.
A stiff body will exhibit anxiety. So, relax your shoulders & body to not spook your horse.
2. Remain Calm While Breathing
If you get stressed or nervous, your nervous system will be triggered and your hip muscles will become stiff.
Because of the fixed and stiff position of your hips, your breathing will become short & quick.
Once the horse senses its rider’s short & quick behavior, it will feel that there may be some danger ahead.
It may then behave wildly and start snorting, ducking, and bolting away.
You need to focus & lead your horse no matter who made the situation tense. Breathe into your belly, let your shoulders relax, & remain calm in all conditions.
How to Calm Your Horse?
Now comes the tricky part. The following tips will help you significantly in relaxing your horse-
1. Routine Turnout
Keeping your horse locked in the stable may have some adverse consequences. Your horse may show unusual anxiety, tension, and bolt away as a result.
Let your horse come out daily for exercises. Give your horse some space so that it doesn’t feel confined always.
You can try taking your horse for a roundup every day and feed him at the same time once he gets used to a structured life.
2. Understand Physical Limitations
Not every horse is a racehorse or a workhorse. You need to assess their abilities before moving them to a work plan.
A horse won’t automatically deliver something just because he is fond of you. He will do what he’s asked to do. So, be sure before you ask. A stress-free horse is also a healthy horse.
3. Read Your Horse's Mood
Understanding your horses’ body language & mood is another challenging task. However, you need to be patient with your horse.
If you see him galloping quite often, then maybe he’s too tired or stressed. You should let him rest instead of training.
Again, if something spooks him off, you need to pat him on the back to tell him to relax. Doing these simple things can help you big time in making your horse calm.
4. Make Sure You Are The Leader
No matter what happens, don’t let your guard down. If a horse realizes he is in control, he will push you.
Instead, try assuring him of the subtlety of giving space, but clearly assert the fact that you are in charge.
5. Praise Your Horse
Don’t push your horse too far. Once he has completed a task, reward him. Praise him always. Don’t scold him unless you have to. Never hit your horse. It will make him go wild.
6. Earn Your Horse's Trust
Your horse must place trust in you. Otherwise, you can’t feel safe while riding your horse. To do so, continue your efforts & use the pressure release technique to relax your horse.
Remember, pitying your horse won’t do any good. Rather your horse will get a habit of such & will push you often.
7. Try Working Overtime
Some horses love to run around & train twice a day. That’s another way to calm your horse’s tension. Regular exercises will help in maintaining the healthy joints & bones of all your pets, especially your horse, and will allow them to reduce stress.
8. Give Your Horse Something to Play With
To prevent your horse’s boredom in the stable, give him a toy or ball to play with while he is locked. Applying this theory can solve the anxiety issues with the horses when they are inside the stable.
Always remember that your horse counts you as his herd mate when you are riding him. So, the way you behave and how your body reacts will set the tempo for your horse. A nervous or anxious approach from you will put your horse on red alert.