by Kelly Baynton
(Brantford On Canada)
Hi there. I recently bought a retired barrel racer. He is a paint quarter horse 15 yrs old and I just love him. I have had a horse in the past when I was 13. I am 46 now. I purchased him from a rescue and they had not a whole lot of info except he was sound good around people and other horses. He was a very easy smooth ride which is what I wanted as we have a 14 month old grandson and another wheelchair bound son. We are slowly getting to know each other it is hard as I have to board him 20 minutes away. I just want to know how to become more comfortable with him and his pasture mates. Two beautiful mares. My husband has no fear but I have to admit I am a little nervous. I want to get to a trust point so I can be comfortable alone as well as with family around. We have a big family. When we were out last week my daughters boyfriend was holding his lead and Bayley got up on his hind legs just for a moment. Is the dominance? I know horses are very sensitive and smart and can pick up on fear easily. I want to make his experience getting to know us and we getting to know him a good one. I feel his has had a good but very active busy life. Any tips or info would be sooo appreciated. Thanks in advance Kelly.
Confidence (which is the opposite of nervousness/fear) comes when knowledge is present. When knowledge is present, fear/nervousness cannot exist. So it’s knowledge you need and will help remove your nervousness.( Our ebook called The Secret Lives of Horses
will jump start your journey.)
Why are you nervous about this horse? Does he rear up often? Does he have unpredictable behaviors? There are many reasons a horse would rear, none are good, so something happened (to frighten him) right before he did this. A past experience for Bayley could have triggered this reaction too.
Most horses who end up in a rescue situation have gone through some kind of trauma, mistreatment etc. But when we don’t know what that was, cautionary measures are necessary and I always treat these horses with extra kindness, patience and understanding. Take nothing for granted, especially what others tell you about him. You will need to discover who he is through your experiences and interactions yourself.
The best way to become comfortable with him and his pasture mates is to share space with them. Walking very slowly
amongst the herd without agendas and offering the back of your hand for them to sniff in the event “they” approach you. You want them to feel that you are just another herd member. Do what feels comfortable for you though. If you are only comfortable 10 feet away then, just walk that distance amongst them.Ground Training Exercises
are the next great place to go and from here I would certainly recommend Clicker Training
. It will raise your confidence quickly, create fun in Bayley’s life and give you both a language you can understand.
Thanks for rescuing him!
Horses by Nature
P.S. Not sure if you or the handlers where you board know this, but halters should not be left on horses in the field. There has been too many horses seriously injured this way. And no, the break away halters are not an alternative. :0)