SETTLING IN / RE/CONNECTING 17
PROGRAMME STEP 12
By now you should have worked through all the steps and be ready to move on with your horse. Today you will need a saddle, bridle, feed bucket with quite a bit of feed or treats he likes, halter & lead and a mounting block if you require one.
If you are doing these steps with a child and pony let the child do the steps they can and you do the rest.
Place everything except the halter & lead outside the working roundyard or yard door to the side.
Keep some treats / feed in your pocket.
Catch your horse and bring him straight into the work area. Let him go in there with the halter only on and wait outside quietly. When the novelty of being in there has worn off and the horse is calm and relaxed, take the bin of feed he likes into the middle and the saddle, saddle blankets and bridle.
Put the lead on him and allow him to eat the feed while you saddle up but make sure you have plenty of feed so there is plenty left when you have finished saddling up.
Tell him good boy the whole time, you can never encourage too much, praise all the time all the time all the time.
The one thing that makes more horses dodgy than anything else is a lack of encouraging praise. Confusion sets in and frustration if you don't because they are unsure if they are doing what you want and will be really nervous, praise is your 1 key to a relaxed, calm, happy, quiet horse and lack of praise is your 1 key to a frustrated, angry, nervous, spooky, unpredictable jumpy horse.
Lots of pats and cuddles as if he has been the best horse in the world, get those blue rings going in his eyes ;) Let him eat until you are just about to actually mount, mount then let him eat again and just pat him and say good boy. While mounting tell him he's a good boy and stroke and praise him immediately and throughout, critically when your backside hits the saddle praise praise praise. Allow the horse to eat.
Let him eat for as long as he wants to and simply relax and enjoy sitting on your horse, lots of cuddles, praise and pats will make sure he is relaxed and remains half asleep. No slap pats, just strokes and quiet praise.
A bombproof horse is a relaxed half asleep horse. Learn how to put and keep your horse in a sleepy calm, happy relaxed state by using the greatest tool in your arsenal, a quiet, gentle good boy and pat.
Never wind a horse up or get on a horse that is in a nervous state. If they are nervous, relax them with reassurances, pats and cuddles till they are relaxed then continue.
Never ever click at a horse unless you want a faster, nervous fizzy horse and never ever demand and be hard with a horse unless you want the same.
While your horse is eating start to move a little in the saddle, rub your hands on him, get a feel for him.
Always continue to chat away normally to your horse all the time and encourage interaction.
Just before the feed is finished, dismount and pat and cuddle, take the gear off, finish, lots of praise and put him back perhaps with a pick on the way home, lots of praise.
Repeat this step twice.
STEP 12 GOAL & OUTCOME:
The goal of this step is to instill in your horse's mind a good habit of associating you with nice, calm, happy moments and so will relax and will be comfortable with your riding him.
It is also for you to get your confidence up greatly for riding because the horse is choosing to stay and eat the feed while accepting you riding him and you can get a feel of him while he is doing so.
I dare say you will be amazed at the confidence this step gives you and gives your horse ;)