Teaching Your Horse to Pay Attention to You Above ALL Other Things
How to Get Your Horse to Pay More Attention to You
Sometimes horses will get used to a routine and then do it automatically, but without paying much attention to you. To keep that, and its forthcoming problems, from happening, you'll need to switch up your horse's routine and do things that interest it. You also can use technical riding moves to keep your horse attentive to what you're asking.
General Guidelines for Getting a Horse More Attentive
Change up your horse's schedule.If you usually ride your horse to a certain place at a certain time, try riding to a different place at a different time of day. If your horse is used to being ridden in arenas, go trail riding with him or teach him how to herd cattle.
Don't only ride your horse.Switch it up by grooming your horse, giving your horse a massage, and taking your horse on walks with you around the neighborhood.
Teach your horse to be alright with being ridden away from other horses.If your horse can be okay with leaving all his buddies to just hang out with you, he'll tend to focus more on you and less on other things (such as his buddies).
Do ground work with your horse.This involves leading, lunging, and trotting-in-hand. The more your horse listens to you while you're on the ground, the more he'll listen to you while you're in the saddle.
Do things that your horse likes.If your horse likes trail riding, go do that during the week between practicing arena riding. If you keep your horse's schedule fluid and different every time, your horse will get into less habits that may let him to move automatically and without actually listening to you.
Techniques to try while Riding
Work on riding transitions, such as asking your horse to increase or decrease speed of gait while being ridden.For example, going from a walk to a trot, a canter to a walk, or a trot to a halt. Transitions will make your horse pay more attention to when you ask him to stop or increase speed. He'll also need to focus a lot more because he'll need to balance himself. Make sure to always change the amount of strides you make per technique, otherwise your horse will anticipate. Practice these until the transitions are smooth and fluid.
Ride your horse in figures (figure-8s, etc.). Ride many different figures so your horse will pay attention to what you're asking.
- Figures to try with your horse: Circle, Diagonal, Half-Volte, Eight Figure, Serpentine, Shallow Loop, Down The Center Line.
Get your horse on the bit and engaged.When riding on the bit your horse is searching for your hands, which means he is paying attention to what you are doing with your hands. That's why it is really important to be precise with your cues, because if you're always tugging or pulling your horse will become oblivious to them.
Ride your horse at a faster, more engaging gait.If you ride really slow it'll be easy for your horse to zone out, but if you keep him in a faster pace, he will inherently have to pay more attention.
Techniques to try while Lunging
Practice on verbal cues and transitions.By training your horse to transition by listening to your voice, he will have to pay attention to what you're saying.
- By using many transitions, your horse won't be able to zone out.
Change the direction in which you're lunging the horse.By changing the direction your horse will have to focus on turning around when you ask, and stay alert for when you do ask.
Try free lunging.Free lunging is basically the same as lunging, but without the ropes. This will make it easier for the horse to ignore you, but once you can get his attention during free lunging, you will be able to keep more of his attention during riding and normal lunging.
- Make many transitions and change the horse's direction frequently. Use a whip as a help (don't hit your horse with it, you should try to hit the ground if you want to speed him up or hold it in front of him for him to reverse direction.)
- Your body language is also really important. By having an open position, your horse will know he's not allowed to come near and it will keep him forward. By taking a closed position, your horse will come up to you and hopefully even follow you if you walk around.
- Ask help from someone experienced during free lunging, they can help you to keep your horse in a circle and near you.
- Lunging and free lunging are also really good methods to build up a bond with your horse.
- If you treat your horse well and with respect, they will do the same to you.
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