8 Easy Horsemanship Tips to Build The Relationship With Your Horse

With all of the twists and turns and ups and downs of life, it’s critical to remember that strengthening your relationships create a healthier life. Building and strengthening the relationship between you and your horse is also a key element in healthy horsemanship. Whether you’re training a young green horse, working on some discipline issues, or simply looking to ‘reconnect’, we are here to provide you with eight tips to help grow the relationship between you and your equine.

1. Spending time: the key to every relationship is spending quality time. Spend some time to get to know your horse on another level other than just riding. Take him for a hand walk or nice graze under a shade tree. The more time you spend getting to know your horse, the stronger bond you will share.

2. Learn your horse’s body language: Have you ever felt like sometimes you just can sense what your horse is thinking? When you’re really trying to understand what your horse is telling you, watch his body language. Is he fussing with his tail and possibly upset with his surroundings? Are his ears forward and his neck relaxed, looking calm and relaxed? Your horse will confide in you if you allow him. Learning ‘what makes him tick’ will take time, but take note on what he likes and doesn’t like to help lead him to his happiness.

3. Practice ground training exercises regularly: oftentimes we get stuck in the habit of riding every day, and not working on ground training. If ground manners start becoming a problem, take him back to the basics of being patient on the ground. Don’t let him ‘take advantage’ and push you over when you’re trying to lead him. Sometimes our horses begin to think they are the boss after being spoiled for too long. Remember, it’s our job to teach them that we are the boss leading them.

*the Goode Rider Forever Shirt is a great top to wear while working at the barn and bonding with your horse. It’s cut a little bit looser for comfort, yet the flattering princess panels add shape. 

4. Reward good behavior: this is huge! If your horse had an exceptional day, be sure to reward him. If you’re riding and he does an excellent course, give him a pat on the neck. After your ride, treat him to some carrots or apples, or even a sweet snack of peppermints.

5. Regular grooming and bubble baths: Building a bond with your horse means getting up close and personal. Rub him down with regularly to check the nooks and crannies of his legs and body for any possible cuts, scrapes, or matted hair. When you know the ins and outs of your horse’s body, you will be able to build a better relationship to understand if something is bothering him.

6. Take him or her ‘off property’: Whether you go out for a trail ride, or a local horse show, getting off the barn property is great for any horse’s mind.

7. Introduce your horse to your friends and family: You introduce your significant other to your friends and family, so why not your horse? Horses love to interact with humans, so if you bring your friends and family by, give them some treats as they meet him. Your relationship with your horse will grow when you feel confident enough to ‘show him off’ to others.

8. Talk to your horse: It seems so simple, but it’s one of the best ways to communicate with your horse. Whether you’re in the tack, or on the ground, be vocal with your equine friends. Don’t just cluck at him, talk to him and tell him ‘you’re a good boy’. If you’re having trouble finding a distance to the jump, I always recommend singing a song to help keep the rhythm. Your horse will appreciate the tune, too!

Ashley Cagle of EquestrianStylist.com aboard “Hadfield’s Minuet”, her retired hunter/jumper Dutch Warmblood in Ocala, Florida Photo by: Kathy Cline Photography

There becomes a point where you become so comfortable with your horse, you can just lay on their back with no halter and lead rope in the pasture. It’s a remarkable ‘freeing’ feeling to just enjoy the back of your horse while grazing. The best relationships are built on those with trust, and the more you can grow your trust with your horse, the better!