Featured post

4 Exercises to Help Calm a Hot Horse

If there is anyone that can talk about hot horses on a hack, it is me.  My horse Shandy was a complete nightmare on hacks.  He would attem...

Thursday, 7 November 2019

How To Get A Scared Horse To Trust You

If you have ever had a horse who does not trust you, you know well and good how difficult it is to gain their trust.  

Unfortunately, without trust, you will not be able to work with your horse.  

I have first-hand experience in this as my horse Shandy is terrified of every human except me.  

And anyway, who doesn't want the amazing feeling of a horse trusting you😉?  Okay, let's have a look into how to gain your horse's trust.  

A dapple grey horse in the turn out field, reaching to get a carrot from his rider.

1.  Body Language

When you approach a nervous horse who doesn't trust you, use very submissive body language.  Keep your eye and head low (hats work great to block eye contact) and turn to the side or turn your back to the horse.  The worst thing you can do is reach out and try to touch the horse.  Instead, go as close as you can and wait for the horse to come to you (this is not a quick step, it will take a few sessions sometimes).  This lets the horse have control of the approach which will increase his confidence.  

Always keep your body relaxed and breathe slowly.  You wouldn't believe me if I told you how many people I have watched walk up to my horse Shandy, bricking it.  He then freaking the hell out 😒 

How can you expect a horse to be comfortable around you if you are scared?  Unfortunately, to be a good horse handler/trainer you need to be completely fearless and confident around horses.  Some people just can't be and that's okay, just stick to well-trained horses who will give you confidence.  

A Palomino horse being wearing tack being lead by his rider down a grass track.

2.  Mind Set

If someone asked me what the most important aspect of training a horse is, I'd have to say your mindset.  A good mindset will get you far with any horse but especially a horse who doesn't trust you.  The same way that a nervous person feels better around a confident person. Be reliable to your horse.  

Work on being relaxed, confident and calm at all times around your horse.  I know it can be frustrating to train a horse sometimes so if you are feeling anxious, low or dishearted you can to take a break and calm down before coming back you can.  It is better to walk away than becoming more and more tense and frustrated.  

I know (as a very anxious person myself) that it can be difficult to relax.  I have found that faking calmness and confidence really helps (although I am not personally scared around horses, only due to life away from the stables).  This more fearless around horses you can be, the better.  

A chestnut horse standing the door way of a brick stable, watching a herd of horses in the background.

3.  Training

I have found that a nervous horse should be treated like any other horse.  I mean that you shouldn't baby a horse who is nervous around you.  Don't approach the horse cautiously, walk up like there's nothing wrong.  

It's really important that you don't hide your horse away.  Get him out in situations that he will need to rely on you to keep him calm.  Ask others to help de-sensitise your horse to new people. 

It is also a good idea to just hang out with the horse either in the field, stable or riding school.  This will slowly encourage the horse to accept you into the herd.    

If your horse is so bad that he can't be handled, use other horses to help you.  I have seen others riding a confident horse next to the nervous one to start touching him.  This exercise and plenty of others use situations that the horse probably won't have had a bad experience before.  

A white horse being lead in a competition 'trot up' with his rider.


I am not a horse trainer or any other equestrian professional.  I only give advice on horsey topics that I have experience as a horse owner in.  Please don't follow my advice without contacting a relevant equestrian professional.  


No comments:

Post a Comment