How to Help the Nervous Horse-
We have all seen the nervous horse; hanging from the rafters, frozen in fear, or doing an explosive getaway. For me, I was used to the calm and connected horse. In fact, I had no desire to own a nervous horse. My natural character is introverted and I tend to be more cautious and reserved. When I work with a fractious horse they tend to mellow and calm, that was until Peppy.
I purchased Peppy about 5 years ago with plans of barrel racing him. I had not barrel raced since high school and I needed an older finished horse to help me build my confidence with speed. Most of my riding and training experience after high school was western showing, trail riding, and rehabilitation work. So much calmer and slower in nature than barrel racing.
I went and rode Peppy a few times prior to purchasing him and he seemed like a calm and connected horse. About a week or two into our new relationship though, a fearful, nervous horse emerged. Our first barrel race was a bit of a shock when I discovered he would get nowhere near the gate. It was also at that first race I was shown a “jockey up” and shoo him in the gate approach that the previous owners had used. Which surprisingly enough was not a confidence and fun booster! Needless to say two barrel racing events and I was done and my confidence was shot.
Calm and Connected Horse was Lost
My confidence was not the only thing that was lost. Peppy from that point on was very nervous, reactive, and the exact kind of horse I did not want to own! By this point I was attached and selling him was not really an option for me. I began where I felt the most comfortable with him, which was on the ground. It was clear that lunging was the only groundwork he was familiar with. Connection and communication were non-existent.
With consistent and persistent work, our ground skills and connection on line improved. Riding on the other hand was not improving and I started to avoid riding him and working other horses. I knew my fear was a large part of the equation. He was relying on me to be a calm and confident leader. But when I mounted and felt his brace, tension, and back hump up underneath me the fear was immediate.
My experience and training with horses had always been to make contact with the horse when they were upset or lost confidence. Only for Peppy that is not what rein contact meant for him. It seemed we were not in harmony and struggled to connect. There were many days and rides that were hard and frustrating as I searched out answers to our dilemma. Remaining open to try and fail is why Peppy and I are back on track and getting ready to barrel race again.
Adjust to Fit the Situation for Your Needs, as well as Your Horse’s-
Peppy has come so far and I can feel that I have as well! He is not just a reactive, nervous horse anymore and I am not a fearful hot mess rider. Over the last week, we have been focused on drills and exercises that in the past we could not have done because he would have been fearful and reactive. Instead, he has been excited in a positive way, offering what he can, and staying a calm and connected horse.
I look forward to our horsemanship journey and what he will continue to teach me and help me through. Five years ago if you had asked me if I would be this connected and bonded with Peppy, I would have been very hesitant to answer. The heart and soul this horse has shared with me is why I do what I do!
Don’t Allow Dangerous Digestive Problems to Linger-
Anxiety can be an indication that there are health concerns lingering below the surface… In my content, I share the story of supporting my mare through health concerns, naturally, after traditional methods had failed and euthanasia became the only recommendation veterinarians had for her. Part of our mission has to do with the success I had in helping her and wanting that for your horse… That’s why I put ALL the steps I used inside my book Healthy as a Horse. I invite you to grab your copy now and discover the forgotten framework of care that can transform your horse’s health. Click here to reserve your copy now.
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Life is better when you’re horsin’ around!