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by Downunder Horsemanship

Training Tip: Move All Around Your Horse

A safe, dependable horse takes everything you do in the saddle in stride. If you need to put on a jacket, you should be able to do so without worrying about your horse spooking and taking off. If you need to pick up a trail map, you shouldn’t have to worry about your horse catching it out of the corner of his eye and getting startled or hearing the paper crunch and taking off. On no horse should you have to sit like a closed pocket knife, afraid to move.

Getting a horse broke to you moving in the saddle and seeing objects above his eye level starts from day one of his training and is the result of a good desensitizing program. In fact, your goal as a trainer should be to expose your horse to as many objects that move and make a noise as you possibly can.

When I start colts, I make a point to move all over them, rubbing up their necks, back on their hindquarters and behind their tails, I slap my hands against my legs, I take my hat off and wave it in the air, I do anything I can think of to start getting those colts broke to me moving around on them. From day one, I want a colt to know that it’s completely normal to feel a human moving on his back and to see and hear a variety of objects above his eye level.

The worst thing you can do on a colt or any horse is to sit like a closed pocket knife, never moving out of position. The one day that you do need to move – you need to reach down and open a gate, a friend hands you a bottle of water, or you wave to someone – your horse will dump you on your head because you’ve never prepared him to see you moving on his back like that. Horses get good at whatever we allow them to practice.