Last Updated on February 22, 2022 by Allison Price
Vicki Yates, founder and president of the Non Ridden Equine Association UK shares her tips for strengthening your relationship with your horse without having to ride.
Vicki says that spending time with horses doing non-ride activities can be a huge benefit for both you and your horse’s emotional and physical well-being.
Here are seven ways she can spend time with horses.
1. You can try mutual grooming your horse and your horse
You can learn many things by watching your horse. We can observe how horses communicate with each other about touching and sharing space.
Pair bonds can be mutually beneficial. If we do the same thing with our horses, we can find out how they like to be touched. Some horses love to be scratched, while others prefer gentle touches.
This isn’t about grooming your horse to get rid of dirt. It is about finding his sweet spots. Your horse will let you know when you are doing it right. Your horse will feel blissed out if you hit the right spot and apply the right touch.
You may be asked to groom your horse in return. Some horses are gentle and cautious, while others are more reserved. You can place a towel on a rail or door to encourage your horse to groom it.
Sweet spot grooming has many benefits. It can be used to show appreciation and reward horses for participating in training activities.
2. Positive Reinforcement is a good idea
Clicker training, or positive reinforcement, is a great way to connect with horses. This allows for faster learning because we can mark the horses when they have done the right thing.
This can be used for any activity you do with horses: walking, ground play, daily handling, training, or riding.
This will also help you to see the difference between positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement.
3. Take a walk
Walking alongside your horse instead of riding is a great way to add a new dimension to your relationship. It’s a great way to build trust between you and your horse, and also a great exercise for both of you.
Walking helps to establish good ground manners that go beyond the schooling environment. This is a chance for you to spend some time with your horse.
Remember that your horse might be harmed by things you encounter on your journeys. These are learning opportunities. These are training opportunities.
You can pick it up and take it with you if it is lightweight and portable. You’ll be able to tell your horse that the object hasn’t been consumed and that you don’t bother carrying it around.
Your horse will begin to reevaluate his situation and become more curious. Your horse will be curious once he is curious. He may initially only want to look at it very tentatively.
Once you reach this stage, it is possible to stop walking away from the object and enter graded approach or retreat. You allow your horse to sniff the object and then you take it away. It gives your horse the opportunity to think about it before you take it away.
The object can be approached and the horse can continue to sniff it. Reward your horse for his bravery.
When your horse is happy with the object in his nose, you can simply return it to the original place.
If you have to hold onto an object that isn’t mobile, position yourself between it and your horse. This is the best place to be, as scared horses won’t run away from what scares.
Talk slowly and gently to calm your horse and keep your energy low. You can show your horse it is safe by touching the object or interfacing with it. You will soon learn that your horse hasn’t eaten you and become curious.
You can make certain objects in the school so your horse can overcome fear.
Equipment for horses
A halter, headcollar, or bridle that fits well is essential, especially if you are going to groundwork your horse. You should ensure that your lead rope is in good condition. Hi-vis is an essential requirement if you plan to travel on the roads.
Equipment for You
Shoes with good grip are essential. Also, don’t forget gloves to protect your hands. It is a good idea to wear a hard hat. Hi-vis is a must, especially if you plan to travel on the roads.
You should have sufficient insurance coverage if you are thinking of venturing out. Third party insurance is the minimum.
4. Play with your horse
Play can be a great way for your horse to think. Horses can process information, solve problems and think through things.
Play is great for spook busting and bomb-proofing your horse. From practising spook-busting games as a partnership, you and your horse will have tools and strategies in dealing with scary situations.
You can play with your horse in many ways – from interacting with toys and objects to overcoming obstacles you have set up at the school.
5. Try agility with your horse
Horse agility can be extended. You can set up new challenges in your paddock or arena if you have the space.
You might do different pole exercises, walk through channelled areas, or weave around barrels.
Horses enjoy being with one another. Spend time with your horse and the herd.
Our fast-paced lives make it difficult to slow down and relax. Just being with horses allows us to connect with nature.
Nothing is better than grazing your horse while you enjoy the sunshine on a sunny day.
Winter is no excuse to stop riding. You can wrap up warm, find a safe spot and give your horse water and hay.
Relaxation is key to your success.
Horses are attracted to peaceful and relaxed people. This allows for greater achievement and better communication.
7. You can also show your work online
Online showing classes are available for all levels of riders.
There are many different types of classes, from the traditional, to fun and themed, so something to appeal to everyone.
The moment you want to capture your entry is up to you, whether it’s a photo or a video. Because there is no transportation cost, it’s much cheaper than attending a local event.
Rosettes are dropped at your door if you win or place.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!