How to Make Your Horse Love You
When you own a horse that you love with all your heart, it’s only natural that you would want them to love you back. However, you may not always feel as though your horse is reciprocating your affection for them.
How do you make a horse love you? You can make your horse love you by spending plenty of quality time with them, maintaining a calm and positive demeanor around them, being a decisive leader, not overtraining them, doing groundwork together, and rewarding them when they exhibit positive behaviors.
There’s much that goes into gaining a horse’s love, so let’s look at each of these areas individually so that you can easily pinpoint the areas where you might need to make some changes in your interactions with your horse.
Make Your Horse Love You By Spending Time With Them
When you think about your relationships with other people, what improves those relationships the most? Quality time and communication.
If you want your horse to love you, it’s vital that you’re a large enough part of their life that they have the opportunity to begin developing a bond with you.
Being a good horse owner is a significant time commitment that requires a “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health” level of dedication. If you’re not sure what quality time with a horse looks like, here are a few of my favorite bonding activities with my horse.
Take a Walk and Explore New Areas With Your Horse
One great thing to do with your horse is to lead them with a lead rope and explore new areas. If you’ve been doing a lot of rigorous training, this can be a nice change of pace for your horse or a good cool-down activity for them.
Taking walks with your horse gives each of you the perfect opportunity to bond with each other in a low-pressure situation. One of the most fun things about owning a horse is learning all of the quirks in their personality that make them unique, and taking a walk is a great time to discover these.
If your horse is prone to dragging behind, grazing, or walking in front of you while being led, you can watch my YouTube video here on how to lead a horse.
Stand With Your Horse As They Graze
Another way to spend quality time with your horse is to simply stand near them while they’re grazing. Let’s be honest, horses love to graze. And if they learn that they don’t have to stop one of their favorite activities whenever you’re around, they’ll appreciate you all the more for it.
Of course, you don’t want your horse demonstrating disrespectful behavior by constantly trying to graze while you ride or when you’re leading them, but setting aside designated time to just enjoy their company while they graze is perfectly fine behavior.
Groom Your Horse
Grooming is the perfect bonding activity to do with your horse because it can be therapeutic for both you and your horse, and it’s also an important part of being a responsible horse owner.
You should be cleaning out your horse’s hooves every day, and when you do, why not take a few minutes to brush their coat and mane and make them look even more glorious than they already do?
Brushing your horse, much like a massage, can improve their circulation and help alert you to any sensitive or wounded areas. This is especially important if you’re planning on riding. Trying to ride a horse who is suffering from an injury can result in injuries to both you and your horse.
Take Relaxing Pleasure Rides
If you’re working towards a specific riding goal, it might be tempting to use every chance you have to ride to work on those goals. However, for the sake of maintaining a positive relationship with your horse, it’s a good idea to add variation to your riding routine so that your horse doesn’t begin to negatively associate riding with endless difficult work.
Every now and then, I love taking relaxing rides with my horse on the trails around my boarding stable. Not only does this allow us to spend quality time together, but it also helps me stay calm and keep my emotions in check, which is vital for good horse training.
Make Your Horse Love You By Maintaining Calm and Positive Emotions
Being around someone who is negative and angry all of the time is an unpleasant experience for both people and horses. If you want your horse to love you, it’s important that you can control your emotions and spend time around them when you’re at your best.
Don’t Train Your Horse When You’re Emotionally Compromised
If you’re going through something difficult that has placed you in an emotionally compromised state, I don’t recommend working with your horse right away.
Give yourself time to calm down and refocus so that you can have a productive training session. Horses are sensitive to the emotional state of their trainer or rider. They pick up on all of our subtle non-verbal communication.
If you’re angry about a situation, that aggression can leak into your body language and behavior, making you more aggressive than you need to be. Training a horse is all about communicating effectively with them, so make sure you’re not unwittingly sending your horse mixed signals.
Stay Calm When Training Or Riding Your Horse
If you’re new to horses, there’s a good chance that you might be somewhat nervous when it comes to training and riding them. When starting anything new in life, it’s natural to feel nervous, but the important thing is managing the nerves.
As mentioned previously, horses can often sense our emotional and mental states. If you still feel nervous when working with your horse, do what you can to keep it concealed from your horse. Give your instructions to them with confidence, and learn everything you can about the areas you’re working on so that you can be as assertive as possible. When you’re calm and comfortable around your horse, they’re more likely to love spending time with you!
Patience Is Key If You Want Your Horse to Love You
One of the main reasons horse owners might be too hard on their horse is a lack of patience. Horse training requires patience and consistency if you want to see the longterm results that you’re working towards.
When watching other horse owners on social media, TV shows, and movies, doing something impressive with their horses, it can feel like there’s a pressure to get your horse on the same level as them as fast as possible.
What you don’t see is the hours of hard work and dedication that goes into training those horses. I fully believe you can meet your horse training goals as long as you have the patience to work with them day after day, and the willingness to stay teachable and learn from others.
If You’re a Beginner Horse Owner, Work With Someone With More Experience
If I could go back and tell my younger self one thing, it would be to ask more questions! I had the opportunity to be around a lot of incredible horse trainers, and I wish I had taken advantage of it more.
One of the best ways to make your horse love you is to be as effective and clear in your training with them as possible. And if you want to improve your skills, surrounding yourself with people who are where you want to be is essential. In the information age we live in, it’s incredibly easy to learn from great horse trainers online.
While I still prefer in-person training, the abundance of resources online about horses gives me no excuse to not be learning more about horses.
Make Your Horse Love You By Being a Decisive Leader
There’s a hierarchy in every herd of horses where one horse is the leader. In your relationship with your horse, either they’ll be in charge, or you will. And your life will be far easier as a horse owner if you can establish yourself as the person in charge.
If you’re planning on doing any advanced training with your horse that might place them in fear-inducing situations, they’ll especially love you and appreciate you for being a good leader to help them navigate the uncertainty.
Learn How to Communicate Correctly With Your Horse
If you want to be the leader in your relationship with your horse, you’ll first need to know how to communicate correctly with them.
Horses communicate through their body language. You can get a read on what they’re thinking and feeling by whether or not their ears are perked up, pinned back, or relaxed, how much their tail is swooshing, and a variety of other factors.
If you can avoid asking your horse to do something frightening when they’re already worked up or frightened, they’ll most certainly love and appreciate you in the long run.
Horses have surprisingly good memories. They remember negative interactions well after they take place, so your goal should be to limit the number of them so that your horse doesn’t negatively associate you with traumatic experiences.
When you have a better understanding of what your horse is thinking, you’ll be able to give them instructions with confidence knowing that you’re not sending them confusing signals.
Gain Your Horse’s Respect
Did you know that there are numerous behaviors a horse can exhibit that will make it clear that they don’t have the proper amount of respect for you? If you want to learn what they are, you can read my article here for disrespectful horse behaviors and how to correct them.
Gaining your horse’s respect will help you in every area with your horse, so it’s well worth spending time to learn how to gain it.
Make Your Horse Love You By Avoiding An Unhealthy Training Routine
Being a goal-oriented person isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but it can be bad for the wellbeing of your horse if you push them for too hard and long in your training sessions.
I recommend familiarizing yourself with your horse’s vital signs so that you can recognize if your horse has been pushed too hard and know when it may be time to call a veterinarian.
Set Smaller Goals for Your Training Sessions
A good preventative measure to keep you from overworking your horse is to set smaller goals for each of your training sessions.
Break down your larger training goals into a series of smaller steps, and be proud of yourself as you meet each small goal. This helps you grow in your confidence and end each day on a positive note. It also makes the overall training experience more enjoyable for your horse.
Keep in mind as you train your horse, you should adjust the amount of rigorous training you do with them depending on the temperature, whether or not they are recovering from an injury, and how old they are.
Young horses, in particular, can be easily harmed by overtraining. You should avoid activities with them that put a lot of strain on their muscles and bones. Activities, like running down hills, jumping, or simply being worked too hard and long can have a negative impact on their physical development.
Make Your Horse Love You By Doing Groundwork Together
One of the best ways to make your horse love you and strengthen your bond with them is by doing groundwork. Groundwork is the foundation for a healthy relationship with your horse, so you should always seek to be improving in this area.
If you’re not sure what to work on with your horse, you can read my guide here for the 5 best groundwork exercises to do with your horse.
Make Your Horse Love You By Rewarding Positive Behaviors
Positive reinforcement is important if you want your horse to love you and enjoy your interactions with one another. Here are just a few of the ways you can reward your horse for a job well done.
Give Your Horse Treats
Horses love food, making it one of the impactful ways to reward them and encourage positive behavior. While you certainly don’t want to overdo it with giving treats to your horse, they can be an effective training tool used in the right context.
Give Them Time to Be a Horse
Sometimes, the only reward your horse needs is to just be allowed to relax. Giving your horse a few minutes to graze after a complicated training session will help them view you in a better light, and help them come back with renewed energy and focus when you start training again.
Use Pressure and Release With Your Horse
When working with your horse, it’s important that you don’t use sustained pressure when your horse is already doing what you want them to do. Whether you’re leading your horse, riding them, or doing groundwork, make sure you release the pressure on your lead rope or reigns as soon as your horse responds correctly.
This release is a reward for them, so you want to make sure they can put two and two together by releasing pressure at the correct time.
Having a good relationship with your horse will take hard work, dedication, and patience. If you’re not confident that your horse loves you yet, don’t be discouraged. Every horse is different. Your journey with your horse is one of a kind, so embrace it and have fun in the process!
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