How to give a horse more confidence in the saddle?
My horse has severe confidence issues. He isnt barn sour at all, doesnt have seperation issues from other horses, his only issue is his seperation from, well, me. If he cant see me on him he locks his feet and wont move. Would an open bridle instead of one with blinders help? How can I encourage him? Also, he was rescued, and has been abused for horse pulls out west where rules arnt as strict as in the east. He has been electricuted/shocked, and had scars all over his back side and face. He was also deprived of water to keep at a certain weight before horse pulls, leaving him with bad kidneys. He seems to have forgiven the human race for whatever was done, but doesnt like being seperated from me. Did he start thinking of me as "herd leader" or "mom"? Lol If he cant see me when driving solo or while im riding him he gets very nervous and wont move forward, only backing around and trying to go in circles...
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Sounds like he is learning to trust again..or atleast trying to. He may need to build confidence/trust in all aspects of daily life, so this will probably take a lot of patience and time, but you will be doing a great thing for him! I think riding him so that he can see you is a plus - perhaps him being able to see what you are doing and know that you aren't going to try anything suspicious will help him begin to trust you on his back. As for pulling, maybe try to make it so that he can see you or someone he is familiar with while performing...I think seeing people he trusts and approaching him with calm and collected thoughts would benefit him. Horses with bad pasts take a while to adapt to new lives, and I think you being there and wanting to help him is amazing!
How old is your horse? Breed? Is he sound and healthy enough to ride and drive? Has he had a really complete vet check since you got him?
And what is your experience level?
Sorry for the questions but it's kind of hard to make a suggestion with little information. It sounds like he has had an extremely hard time, poor guy. So sad. Makes you want to tie some people down to an ant hill, doesn't it?
Why are you riding him with blinders? Or did I totally misread that?
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The best confidence builder that I've found is praise. Praise the little stuff, make a fuss over him. If he stands still while you get on, praise him. If you ask for a trot or a back or even just a walk forward give him praise. Once he begins to understand that he is doing it right and gets rewarded, he'll build the confidence to do a little more then a little more.
It will take some time at first, but then like a snowball down hill, he will really begin to bloom. If he shuts down like he's doing now, that could be his signal that he doesn't understand or that you're asking too much too fast.
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