Besides riding, owners can engage in other activities with their horses. Staying on the ground with the horse gives the animal a chance to get to know the owner by sniffing (of course!) their clothes and body, familiarizing itself with the owner’s size, movements, and voice. Further, an owner on the ground poses less of a threat to this prey animal, allowing the horse to quickly and safely examine them and become familiar.
Walking with one’s horse is a safe way to explore the environment at a casual, cautious pace. Talking along the way can calm the equine unfamiliar with some areas. At the same time, the horse gets exercise, along with enjoying the variety. Interestingly, by frequently walking with their horses, many owners have been able to teach their equines to walk with them without a lead line. Another way to walk the horse is on a little treasure hunt with treats placed randomly along the way that the horse can enjoy sniffing out.
Taking the horse where it can graze and putting down a blanket so the owner can talk to the horse and have a relaxing picnic together is also a good idea. If the picnic includes a few apples, pears, peaches, carrots, watermelon, granola bars, or other treats, the horse will thoroughly enjoy itself.
Grooming is an excellent way to get a horse comfortable with being touched. Attending to some problematic areas for the horse to reach will be appreciated, and moving around the horse acclimates it to the owner’s actions and nearness. Talking to the horse in a soothing voice as the grooming is being done associates the owner’s voice with positive feelings. (A jelly massage mitt from supply catalogs has a grooming side that feels great to a horse.) Such training may prove helpful when the horse becomes nervous in a new environment.
Somewhat challenging to locate at first, the “sweet spot” is usually in a place the horse cannot reach, such as the withers. When the horse’s lower lip relaxes and quivers, the spot has been happily located.
In hot weather, most horses enjoy cool water running over them. Some even like the garden hose shooting water across their mouths where a bit rests. Also, horses usually love to stand in ponds if they are available.
Training a horse to back up makes getting them off a trailer easier, maneuvering it into stalls, in the woods, etc.