Remember the last time that you moved to a new house? Can you remember how disorientated you felt? And how strange it was not automatically knowing where the light switch was, or where you had left the corkscrew…
As an adult, you have a degree of control over where you live, but horses are moved around at the whim of humans, with no language other than their behaviour to articulate their distress and confusion. They have moved away from their friends and familiar surrounding and placed in new environments where they have to make new friends and fit into a different routine. There are however a few tips to help you and your horse to adjust.
1: Be patient. Don’t expect everything to be perfect straight away. You and your horse will take time to get to know each other. Time spent establishing a healthy relationship, in the beginning, will reap rewards over the years.
2: Be kind. Both to yourself and your horse. Don’t get frustrated if things take longer than you expected, every little step forward adds up to a big improvement. Equally, don’t be annoyed if your horse doesn’t seem to understand exactly what you want, he is probably as confused as you are.
3: Don’t be a pushover. Kindness isn’t the same as weakness. Manners on the ground are important. If your horse is not listening on the ground, start with doing some groundwork, before you begin riding, so that you have established good healthy boundaries before you begin ridden work.
4: Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, though make sure you trust the person whom you ask. If you are struggling to get your new horse to do something that you are asking, getting someone more experienced to ask the horse the same question, will help you to see whether the horse understands or not.
5: Evaluate your progress. Keep a record of where you were with your horse at the beginning and then look back at regular intervals. You will be amazed how much your relationship has developed. Try not to compare yourself to others, remember people only ever show you the highlights of their lives, never the hard work that got them there.
Getting a new horse home is almost as nerve-wracking as bringing a newborn home! But if you take your time and don’t rush the process, you will lay the foundations to build a relationship that will thrive and blossom over the years. Remember our horses are talking, it is up to us to listen to them.
Lizzie Hopkinson is a partner at www.ethicalhorseproducts.co.uk
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