If you’re looking to learn alongside your horse, try developing the ability to recognize signs of equine boredom or frustration.
Sometimes horses communicate these feelings with obvious gestures, trainer Tessa Nicolet explains. Actions like your horse walking away from you when you enter his pen or slowing down when you near the arena might be signs there is a problem.
Nicolet says that most of the time, however, the signs are more subtle. Here’s what to watch for:
Does your horse start a riding session with lots of energy that rapidly disappears minutes into your ride? He might be bored. “If you find yourself considering, ‘Maybe I need a bigger bit or maybe I need spurs,’ you might want to consider that your horse is telling you that they might be kind of bored with that activity,” Nicolet comments.
Lack of enthusiasm or a sullen attitude may be rooted in several factors, including overwork, but boredom can also be a cause.
If a horse starts inventing moves out of nowhere, he may be bored. In short, he might be trying to make the ride interesting because his rider never does, Nicolet suggests. Examples range from suddenly moving sideways to a random crow hop. Nicolet emphasizes that horses generally like to move; the trick is to create an engaging environment in which moving stays enjoyable. “If we can set things up so that they can move in a way that feels good and they feel rewarded for it, they actually will put a lot of effort into moving,” she explains.
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