Signs That Your Horse Is Bored
Many horseback riders often wonder whether or not their horse is truly having fun whenever they’re being ridden or handled. After all, horses only have an attention span of a few seconds; which means that they could get bored very easily if they’re asked to do the same thing over and over.
So, how do you tell if your horse is bored? Here are a few things I notice specifically when a horse has lost interest in what you’re asking them to do:
- The Horse Will Easily Be Distracted By Other Things
- There Doesn’t Really Seem to be Any Energy Coming From Your Horse’s Movements
- Their Response to Your Cues are Slow
- The Horse Might Start to Act Up When Faced With a Certain Task
It’s important to put yourself in your horse’s shoes when it comes to dealing with your horse’s boredom. If you were in their situation, would you be having fun? Luckily, there are some quick and effective fixes to get your horse enjoying riding again! Below, I’ve covered each point and included a way to get your horse’s mind engaged and having fun.
A Bored Horse Can Easily Be Distracted
If your horse is bored, it can be hard for them to focus on the task you’re asking them to do. A distracted horse will be looking out of the arena at distractions in the distance, or if you’re on the ground, it may feel as if they’re looking right passed you. A distracted horse could be whinnying for friends or spooking at everything that moved.
Have you been working on the same task with your horse for a while and this behavior has suddenly arisen? It’s probably because the horse is bored and knows what to expect every time you get in the saddle. Try challenging your horse by having them do something different.
Try setting up a fun obstacle course or going out for a trail ride. Try timing yourself over a jumping course or just relaxing at the barn. A bored horse can expect what’s about to happen next, but if you keep them guessing, then their mind will become engaged in the new activity.
If you want to learn some other ways to get your horse focused, check out our article How to Get Your Horse to Pay Attention to You.
If Your Horse Doesn’t Seem to Have Any Energy, They Might Be Bored
Does it ever seem that your horse is dragging his feet or doesn’t have any forward momentum? If so, this may be happening if your horse is bored. I’ve noticed that when I’m on a horse that’s enjoying what they’re doing, their ears are perked and they move forward with energetic gaits. A horse that is bored may do the opposite.
If your horse is exhibiting this behavior, you can create a more forward and energetic workout by adding in exercises that engage your horse’s mind and body. Try adding frequent change-of-directions, circles, diagonals, and transitions. Challenge your horse with harder transitions like walk to canter or trot to halt.
If your horse is frequently being asked to do these things, it required more from their body and mind. They’ll be responsive as they look for your next direction.
Slow Response to Your Cues Could Mean a Bored Horse
Does it seem as if your horse is responding that well to your cues? Does it take them a few seconds to comprehend what you’re asking? If your horse is demonstrating this behavior, they could be bored. They’re probably distracted or tuned out, so when you ask them to do something, it takes them a moment to re-engage their minds.
A great fix for this behavior is groundwork. Groundwork is any training you do with your horse while you’re on the ground. It’s a great way to show your horse something that correlates to when you get in the saddle.
If you have an unresponsive horse, groundwork is a great way to encourage quick responses and engage your horse’s mind. All of a sudden, your horse is in a new environment where you’re on the ground and not in the saddle. This automatically draws them in to focus.
Want to learn some easy groundwork techniques to get your horse responding quickly and paying attention? Watch this video:
Is Your Horse Protesting a Certain Task? They Might Be Bored.
Do you ever find that your horse starts to act up when you ask them to do something specific? For example, I knew this one horse that any time you would try and ride them into the riding ring, they would throw a hissy fit. If you know a horse like this, they probably act up because they’re bored with that particular task.
The horse that I knew that would act up when it was supposed to go into the riding arena was a lesson horse. Any time the horse went in the arena was for a lesson where they would just go around the ring and tote along with a beginner rider. It was easy to realize that the horse was bored.
To correct this behavior, the next time the horse had to go into the arena, a more advanced lesson student rode and they were able to do a jump course and more advanced things. The horse immediately perked up and was willing to go into the arena from that day forward.
The horse associated the ring with boredom because that’s all she knew; so when the arena was made into something fun, the horse learned to have a different outlook!
I hope this article was able to help if you’re dealing with a bored horse! Now, if you’d like to learn if your horse really likes you, read our article Horse Affection: 10 Clear Ways Horses Show Affection.
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