Owning a horse requires a lot of work and dedication. There is no question about that. And I can guarantee you that any horse owner will agree with me when I say that owning a horse is a very rewarding experience.
But there is a lot of work, training and patience required to get you and your horse to a mutual 'give and take' relationship. And by training I mean, you training your horse to have some basic and essential horse manners that will benefit you both greatly.
8 Horse Manners Your Horse Should Have
So to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable ride everytime here is my list of manners to teach your horse.
1. Lead Patiently In Hand
Leading a horse is quite similar to heeling a dog. Really. So when you are leading your horse, they should be walking alongside you at both the same pace and speed. When leading, your horse should also be paying attention to your words. For example, if you give an instruction such as “step aside” or “move back” there should be no hesitation. Your horse should respond immediately. Your horse should not push into you or hang back onto you.
Once you are able to teach your horse to be patient and how to lead correctly, you will have the foundation in place for effective ground horse manners.
2. Allow Touch
Your horse should trust you enough to let you touch them wherever you put your hand. This includes the sheath, muzzle, chest, ears and between the legs. Your horse has to be comfortable with your touch. However it isn't uncommon for horses to well, be a bit shy about you touching them in sensitive areas. You need to get your horse used to it because there are going to be times when you have to attend to these sensitive areas. Such as for for cleaning, examining injuries or to replace dressings.
3. Stand With Patience For Farrier
Hoof care should be a regular occurrence that happens about every 6 to 8 weeks. It is because of this your horse should become comfortable with this regular experience. Because hooves require cleaning and trimming, your horse has to remain calm and stand quietly as the farrier does their job. With good ground manners instilled in your horse, the farrier’s visit should be a lot easier. And all round less stressful and less painful for you, your horse and the farrier.
4. Accept Paste Wormers Without Hesitation
Whether or not your horse knows it, you have the responsibility to take care of their health. If your horse is not well, misses vet check-ups or routine care appointments you could end up with a hefty bill. The best way to avoid this is to take home care seriously and to get your horse used to accepting paste wormers. Not only does this help keep digestive issues under control, the activity will make your horse more comfortable with check ups. So when the time comes for dental exams and other oral care programs, your horse is already accustomed to such attentions.
5. Be Comfortable With Getting On A Horse Float
As hard as it may be to believe, loading an uncooperative horse into a float isn't where rodeo events originated. Not only can this become frustrating when your horse will not oblige, it can get dangerous. At some point you are going to need to be able to load your horse onto a float. Therefore you should practice before hand. Emergencies, relocations, attending horse shows and selling a horse will all result in a float being needed. A calm and quiet horse that will load and unload from a trailer with ease is far less stressful. Trust me, you don't want to have to tranquilize your horse just to get them on a trailer.
6. Wait With Patience And Remain Calm
The word ‘wait’ is likely to become a regular part of your vocabulary when around your horse. However, it is also a valuable command when you are trying to open a stall door, gate or attempting to mix their feed. Sure, we all want our horse to be interested and excited about us being around them, but they also have to learn to be patient.
With a horse that waits calmly and patiently for you to complete a task, you life will be much easier. Working in and around the corral will be far less stressful and much more enjoyable for both of you.
7. Be Prepared To Get Caught
Having to chase your horse around the pasture is not really a game when you have a vet or farrier waiting nearby. This is why you must teach your horse to come to you when called and to accept being caught. A horse that runs away everytime they see a lead rope or bridle will not be your best friend anytime soon.
If your horse refuses to get caught, it could become a dangerous situation if they feel cornered and then bolt. The best way to avoid this from happening is to teach your horse to expect to get caught each and every time. This reduces the fear and stress for when you need to capture your horse from the paddock.
8. Stand Tied To One Place Quietly
Being tied to a post, tree or float is going to be part of the routine of owning a horse. And you horse needs to know this too. Or at least get used to it. This will give you hands-free access to attend to them for your horse riding activity. Plus when they can stand quietly, calmly and patiently, a few horse chores can be completed without a lot of fuss. For example, it’ll make grooming, hoof cleaning, tacking or harnessing up a whole lot easier.
Essential Horse Manners Conclusion
A horse without good ground manners is going to become a challenge to spend any amount of time with. Left unchecked, your horse will eventually become as annoying as that bratty kid down the street. When your horse ends up doing all the leading, you have basically lost control of the situation.
You can avoid all of that by simply teaching your horse these basic ground horse manners. Doing so sooner rather than later will build a much better relationship between the two of you. With a horse that has these basic ground manners, time spent together will be enjoyable and provide great riding experiences to last a lifetime.