Horses are delicate creatures that respond to subtle body language and movement much more than other animals. Understanding the message you convey through your body movements is essential to having a good relationship with your horse. Read on to find out how you can communicate with your horse through movement.
Calm and Slow Motion
Horses that are unfamiliar with you or that have a flighty nature require a calm presence. Even if a horse seems agitated or nervous, moving calmly and slowly, but confidently, will help to build a level of trust. Acting slowly out of fear may put a horse on-edge, but having the confidence to take control of the situation will help your horse feel at ease.
When using reins to control your horse, remain conscious of how you are holding the reins. Holding them tight constantly will make them virtually worthless as a cue to tell your horse to slow down. Also, jerking the reins around too much can confuse your horse. Keep the reins loose enough that your horse does not receive pressure while riding normally, so that tightening reins can signal to your horse that you need it to slow. Clarify the meaning of rein movements by training your horse to react to the movement. For example, if tightening the reins means slow down, make sure your horse has slowed its speed before loosening up. Be consistent with this practice to avoid mixed signals.
Similarly to using the reins, the way you move your legs will indicate to your horse how you want it to move. If you constantly keep your legs tight against your horse, it may not understand if you tighten even further that you want it to slow down. Alternatively, you should be careful about how you condition your horse to speed up as it may confuse the two commands. This can lead to a harmful situation that may end in an injury.
Having good posture is a key to making sure your movements are not misunderstood. You’ll have to get used to sitting straight from day one to ensure your horse recognizes where you naturally put pressure on them. If you feel as though you cannot keep your posture straight due to a recent illness or injury, it is better to wait until you are healed before riding.
When training your horse, how you move will send signals to your horse that may not even be intentional. Be cognizant of how your actions will be perceived in order to form a strong communicative bond with your horse.