Last Updated on February 22, 2022 by Allison Price
The horse is just as important as the human in a human-equine partnership. Our equine friends should not be trusted 100 percent. Sometimes they forget they are much smaller than they are. We can build a strong, loving relationship that lasts a lifetime by using trust and respect. How can you build trust and respect with your horse?
These are ways you can trust your horse.
Our article on 15 Essential Ground Rules for Safety explains how trust is earned through good leadership. A lack of trust will lead to a poor relationship between you and your horse. Good leadership is one way to ensure your horse trusts and respects you.
How to Communicate This Leadership
Spend time with your horse. Start with foundation. Do not rush to learn how to ride. You will gain respect and trust from your horse by working together with him on the ground.
Next, take care of your horse’s needs. Talk to your horse while they eat and spend some time grooming. Horses are herd animals. Although it might take horses a while to respond, they will be grateful for the attention. Horse herds share meals and take care of each other. It is not recommended to let your horse groom you.
Keep your horse safe, last but not least. Trust can be severely damaged if your horse is put in dangerous situations. Leaders of the herd must ensure that the herd does not get into danger. Your horses trust you as the leader of their herd.
Signs Your Horse Believes In You
Horses are experts at reading body language. Horse owners need to be able to read the horse’s body language. Trusting horses will display a relaxed facial expression. The ears are the obvious place to begin. We can tell if the ears of the horse are open and not pinned down that they are not upset about something. Pinched ears indicate that the horse is not angry and needs to be addressed.
Are your eyes relaxed?
Horses with relaxed eyes tend to have more open eyes and a softer look. Horses that are angry or agitated will tighten their muscles around the eyes. These results can lead to smaller eyes that appear glaringly hard.
The facial expression is enhanced by the mouth. The lips of a relaxed horse are not as tight. Sometimes, they can be so relaxed that their lower lips are drooping. The flip side is that if their mouth is open and they are showing their teeth, be careful not to get bit.
Lips that are livid
The first sign that your horse is trusting you when doing groundwork is his licking of his lips. If your horse begins to lick his lips, this is a sign that he trusts you and will submit to you as leader.
He is grabbing his feet
Prey animals such as horses respond to prey with flight or fight. Horses use their strong legs to escape from danger or fight off predators. We are effectively limiting their ability to run away if we ask them to grab a foot and raise their leg in the air. Another sign of trust is a horse that takes care of all their needs and picks up all four feet.
Touching His Ears
Horses’ ears are sensitive to touch. It is also a survival tool to be able hear long distances. Horses may enjoy having their ears rubbed since they are young. Some people twist horses’ ears to control them. It can be difficult to touch the ears or put on tack. It takes patience and time to get a horse who is sensitive about their ears to allow you to touch them.
Doctoring for Patients Who Are Hurt
Horse owners who have owned horses for a long time will eventually need to take care of one. It will be easier to care for a trusting horse, who may turn to you for comfort. It can be dangerous to treat a horse who is not completely trusting you. Another reason to build trust and respect is this.
A Mare’s New Foal
It has taken eleven months for your horse’s baby to arrive. The excitement builds as the day approaches. The questions are always there. What happens if she is having difficulty delivering? Is there something wrong with the baby’s health? Is she willing to let me help or go near the baby?
A mare’s instinct is to protect her foals, especially when they are young. This instinct will be resisted by a horse who trusts and respects you. Side note: While you might want to assist with the delivery, it’s best to not interfere. Call your vet if you suspect she is having problems.
They will do whatever you ask, despite their instincts
Horses are often asked to do things that go against their instincts. For example, loading horses into a trailer. A horse’s perspective, loading into a trailer requires them to stay in a restricted area. Flight is not an option should things go wrong. To be able to jump into the “prison”, they must have a lot trust.
Another example is asking horses to walk on tarps. This is an effective training tool that can help horses become less sensitive. The horse sees the tarp as a hole in his ground. Horses will often paw at tarps when they first learn to cross them. By asking you to let him walk into the hole, he is trying to prove that you are still able to think. Once he has established that he is of sound mind, he can happily cross the tarp.
To build strong relationships with our horse friends, trust and respect are essential. This is possible through leadership. There are many ways to ensure your horse trusts and respects you. Horse owners must be able read their horses’ body language. It is important to recognize when horses trust us and that we will protect them.
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!