HORSE TRUST & COMFORT PATTERNS
Hey, I’m Alice and I’m part of the Hampton and Harlow ambassador program. I have lots of horses and do a variety of disciplines, however I mainly compete Show jumping on my Palomino quarter horse FP Outlaw ‘Skuda’ at 1.25+ and playing Polocrosse on Jaylyn Downs RB ‘RB’. As someone who rides and works with a variety of horses, I find to get the best results out of a horse you have to connect with them and have gained their trust for them to give you their full potential.
I thought writing a blog about horse trust and comfort patterns will help people with their new or younger horses and help benefit training. A lot of my friends and even myself when working with a younger horse struggle on ways to gain their trust. Before I get too deep into this, I would just like to say that no matter what you’re doing your horse can feel what you’re thinking so if you’re nervous your horse is going to second guess things, when you’re being confident so is your horse. Show jumping, being bold and confident plays a huge part in giving your horses the opportunity to feel like they can achieve the spots you let them take off at and the lines you give them. When riding Skuda at home training, before I even hop on I make sure he’s happy and feeling comfortable. When warming up at home and competitions I use the same techniques I would at a show so that when I go to the competition he feels confident because he has memorised a safety trigger to let him know I trust what we are doing for the both of us. Standing still and flexing his head around to my boot, holding his head, giving him a pat and then releasing and doing the same on the other side. In doing this I am warming him up through the neck as well as gaining his trust through having a lot of control over him. However now due to doing it for a long time he does it on his own. Over time your horse will remember this and now with the slightest touch on the rein Skuda brings his head around and waits until i pat him before bringing his head around to the other side. In doing this when I am ready to jump I feel confident because I trust him and he trusts me so when I want to make a difficult jump off line he trusts that I have made a decision for the both of us that he can do it. If i didn’t have something i did every time before i rode him when i go to the competition he doesn’t have something that creates a safe and confident feel for him. This may seem like something only little but your horse will remember doing this in a safe environment so when you take them somewhere new they trust you that the new place is also safe. It doesn’t have to be the same technique, it could be something different but creating a pattern at home and the show makes a big difference in your horse’s performance.
Polocrosse is a different style of riding and performance compared to show jumping, however your horse still needs to trust you and your judgement in what you ask them to do. A different style of ground work and practice technique’s are used to work with the horses ensuring they feel safe when asked to work quickly with horses all over and around them. Being a horse working with a stick flying around their face, becoming head shy is an issue that can occur. Creating trust around your horses head when your about to train or play makes becoming a better team a lot easier. Creating a safe pattern for the polocrosse horses is similar to show jumping. Personally I like to give my horse a pat between the ears before I hop on and once I hop off. In doing so I create a pattern for my horse which makes her aware that she’s beginning her job, Doing this before training and playing time makes the perfect safety boundary for your horse. The smallest things just 1% over time make up the best attitudes and performances point in our horses. Creating a safety boundy and having your horse trust you all the time training and performance is one of the most important things that can make your horse and discipline become more fun and enjoyable for yourself and the horse.