Preparation is the key
I thought I should talk a little about preparation and how this can influence and set you and your horse up.
We often have certain expectations, ideas and goals. And along the journey we are surprised why it did not work out as well as we thought it would. Or things go well the first two times and then out of the blue your horse does not want to participate.
We might feel like a failure or might even blame the horse. But ask yourself this: did you prepare your horse enough, for him to act like the partner you would like him to be? And did you prepare yourself enough to be the partner your horse needs?
Preparing might not just be as straight forward such as practicing a task. There are many parts to a task, which can be broken down. It’s about thinking out of the box and providing the horse with the necessary tools he requires to accomplish the task.
It can be useful to have a “can you” list, which will show you which parts work well and which don’t.
For instance for loading- Can you:
Send your horse through a narrow space
Ask your horse to touch something with all four feet
Touch your horse all over with a ball
Ask your horse to stand on a pedestal
Ask your horse to touch/sniff the trailer
For clipping- Can you:
Touch your horse all over, especially in the more sensitive areas
Ask your horse to stand still for more than 10 min
Touch your horse with a plastic bag all over
Massage your horse with small clippers/massager
Turn on the clippers and your horse stays calm and relaxed
If most things work well your horse will be more prepared when it comes to the actual task. But even then break the task into smaller pieces which will allow your horse to feel more successful and you will be able to see where your horse is at, at each stage.
For instance clipping:
Turn them on and walk towards your horse. The horse should stay calm and relaxed before moving on to the next part
Turn on and off whilst standing next to the horse
Rub the horse with them on
Have a clipping motion without clipping
And so on.
If some things are not going well yet just play with them a little longer until your horse has better understanding and more confidence
You might be thinking “ this will take too long” “I do not have time” ..…. But if you put the time into your horse at the beginning, your horse will be more confident, trusting and understanding about the task. Otherwise you will get to a situation where your horse may lack in confidence, trust and understanding leading to mistrust and creating a bigger problem. Then you will need to spend more time to resolve the problem.
By putting the preparation before the actual task, you will not be carried away and be ahead of your horse. It will allow you to slow down, think and re-evaluate things every time you play with your horse.
It will also allow you to stay confident and trusting in the process, especially if the task might be causing anxiety.
Always keep your goal in mind, imagine what you want it to look and feel like. It might not look like that right now but it will give you focus and most importantly you will be able to reward the slights shift towards that goal.
Preparation is for both horse and human.