1) Q: How do I know if the problems I am experiencing with my horse, are physical or psychological?
2) Q: Is lunging my horse considered groundwork training?
A: Lunging is not groundwork training. Lunging is exercising a horse. Invariably when you free lunging your horse and you change direction, the horse will turn its hind quarters instead of its eyes to you. This is a sign of disrespect and lack of focus.
3) Q: How do I put my bridle on without my horse avoiding the bit and lifting his head?
A: Firstly, we need to teach the horse to give to halter pressure and to lower its head down and relax. This assists when fitting or removing the bridle or for working around the head area. Often these problems are caused by a high head carriage and the bit banging the horse on the teeth when fitting or removing the bridle. When you have managed to train your horse to give to the halter pressure, you will have a more relaxed horse with a lower head carriage, making it easier to fit the bridle.
4) Q: Why won’t my horse stand still?
A: This is mostly caused through a lack of groundwork training and focus.
5) Q: Can I just use a bitless bridle immediately?
A: No. You need to start with a groundwork training program before you do any ridden work in a halter or bitless bridle.
6) Q: Why should I flex my horse?
A: This creates focus, flexibility, builds top-line muscle and teaches your horse to follow your hand with a light touch.
7) Q: Why won’t my horse box?
A: There could be a multitude of different reasons, however, horses are naturally claustrophobic. It takes time to train your horse to accept confined spaces, and you need to desensitise your horse and build trust, so they feel safe and will follow your leadership.
8) Q: Why does my horse bully me and come into my space?
A: A horse will naturally vie for its position in the herd by using its body and body language to move other horses. If they lack respect for you, they will tend to dominate you and push for their elevation in their immediate ‘herd dynamics’.
9) Q: Why can’t I take my horse on an out ride on my own? She’s constantly calling back to the other horses at the stables.
A: You need a stronger relationship with your horse, which will establish your leadership, where your horse feels safe with you.
10) Q: Why won’t my horse cross rivers or obstacles when I’m on an out ride?
A: You need to establish a stronger relationship based on leadership, trust and ensure that your horse is going forward when you are doing your groundwork. Doing plenty of desensitisation through confidence building exercises will greatly assist you.
11) Q: Why is my horse so skittish? He spooks for the smallest things.
A: Firstly, what is vitally important, is that you remain calm at all times. If you are tensing and anticipating his response, he is more likely to feel your anxiety and tension. Doing plenty of desensitisation through confidence building exercises will increase your leadership stature with your horse and give you both confidence.
12) Q: My horse wants to run away with me so I’ve changed his bit, but he keeps throwing his head up. Why is he doing this?
A: Ideally, you should be able to ride your horse in a halter first. There may be various reasons why he is doing this. Have you checked that the bit is not hurting his teeth? Is your bit fitted correctly? You may be exerting too much pressure on the bit. One of the common problems in this area, is that people are nervous to relax the reins, and allow the horse to go forward, and they often use the reins to balance themselves, as opposed to riding with an independent seat.
13) Q: When I try to train my horse in the arena, he keeps calling the other horses and tries to get out of the arena. How can I stop him doing this?
A: Being separated from the herd can cause separation anxiety, so you need a stronger relationship with your horse, which will establish your leadership, where your horse feels safe with you, and will focus on you. Groundwork is essential in developing this relationship
14) Q: How do I teach my horse to lie down?
A: You need to ensure that you have done consistent groundwork, whereby your horse respects, understands and follows your lead. Firstly, you need to teach your horse to bow with 1 leg, then 2 legs, then move its hindquarters beneath itself, then lie down. This can be a very lengthy process, but with consistent work, is achievable.
15) Q: Can I use treats to train my horse?
A: Yes. You must however be mindful that your horse is not participating due to your relationship, but rather an external reward. I strongly recommend rather growing your relationship, through leadership and trust first, then, you may find that treats are not even necessary. It depends on the horse.
16) Q: When you are out somewhere and your horse is getting really stressed and playing up. What is the best way to deal with it? How does one go about unwinding your horse again?
A: There are several different ways to cope with a horse that is out of control on an outride. One would be to hop off and hopefully you have your halter and training rope with you and you get the horse to do some groundwork and bring it back to a safe calm state.
And the other way is to pick up one rein and disengage the horse’s hind quarters and get it to move in a circle until it calms down and then let it walk out again. If it picks up and starts performing again, just pick up a rein, get some flexion in your horse, disengage the hind quarters until the horse walks and calms down, or just hold it in a flex until it calms down.
17) Q: When trying to mount my horse from a mounting block, he’s now decided its’ fun to keep moving away. How does one go about convincing him to stand in the same position?
A: This is hard to explain, but really you should have done your training and if your groundwork training is in place and quite strong, you shouldn’t have too many problems here. So, getting your horse to stand still in a position, feeling safe and comfortable is important, and if the horse doesn’t stand still, then the only way is to move it in a circle around you. Stay centred on the mounting block and get it to move around you and ask for it to stop every time it comes up and presents the saddle to you. If she moves her hind quarter out, you’ve got to yield that hind quarter back in and if she moves forward you’ve got to pick up the rope and just centre and keep moving the horse until it stands still. Then the other way off the ground is just to flex your horse, a nice flex, then get on your horse that way.