Ground manners are essential for horse care, especially if those horses are on the larger end. To ensure your safety while handling them, you must teach your horse manners. More than etiquette, proper manners can help to prevent any potential injuries and build a strong foundation for a long-term relationship between both of you.
If you're curious about how vital these ground manners are, keep reading! By the end of this article, you may change how you think about horse care and safety.
The purpose of these ground manners is to teach your horse that you are their protector and friend. You are also teaching your faithful steed how to behave around other humans to prevent any deadly accidents caused by bad habits. These bad habits can include kicking, biting, rearing, charging, amongst many others.
By teaching ground manners to your horses, you can prevent almost all behavioral accidents while also ensuring that your connection with your horse is strong and built upon trust. Now we will go into the eight essential ground manners for you to teach your horses.
When leading your horses, you should always have safety at the forefront of your mind. A horse's ability to stay calm is one of the most critical horse manners that you'll need to teach early in training.
The number one rule for safe leading is always to be aware of the location of the lead. Never let the lead drag around on the ground as the horse could step on it and trip.
When you lead your horse, make sure that you lead from the left shoulder with your right hand 15 or so inches away from the head, and in your left hand, keep the lead neatly coiled or folded. Maintaining this posture when walking by your horse allows you to quickly release your right hand while ensuring the lead doesn't get tangled or caught on anything.
As you lead, also, make sure only to lead your horse from its shoulder while slightly extending your elbow out. That way, if it knocks you, it will only knock you back without knocking you over.
Again, we cannot reiterate enough that exercising safety while handling your horses is imperative. After you and your horse have learned to trust each other while walking, it makes it easier for you to care for your dear friend when it comes to the rest of this list.
Your horse should not fight with you when you handle or groom it. Instead, it should allow you to touch its entire body, whether for grooming, checking for injuries, or other activities essential to horse care.
When caring for your horse, often sensitive spots such as their ears, muzzle, and sheaths tend to be points of contention. Regardless, you'll have to clean these areas regularly. Neglecting grooming duties may lead to serious health risks.
When handling a fickle horse, you can desensitize it by brushing it in areas that are less likely to cause an adverse reaction from your horse. You could also try implementing the Touch method to relieve tension and ease their anxiety towards human contact.
If your horse has not learned to stand still and trust that you will not hurt it, you may find yourself facing injuries. Building that trust between you two will allow you to groom your horse without the constant back and forth. This can also be an excellent foundation for more intimate grooming.
Similar to allowing you to touch their body while grooming, standing quietly while having their hooves examined is another crucial part of horse manners.Daily hoof care is essential. As your horse trots around, debris and dirt have the chance to get caught in their sensitive hooves. If they fight with you during their routine cleaning, it can prevent you from thoroughly caring for them and even be borderline dangerous in the long term.
Train your horses to wait and stand calmly while you clean their hooves or while a farrier tends to their needs. This ground manner may be one of the most important to teach early on, as it can prevent your horses from facing uncomfortable pains at best and more excruciating pains at worst.
As your horse becomes less sensitive to your touch on its outer body, its trust in you will gradually become strong enough to perform intimate horse care as well.
One vital form of intimate care is oral care, as it can be a strong point of discomfort for the animal. Your companion's dental health can deteriorate with age, but poor dental hygiene can cause massive health risks. If not cared for properly, one of these major health risks is parasites that the horse has ingested.
To keep your horses at peak health, you must deworm them to make parasite control much easier. While it may be a bit uncomfortable for your horse, it is crucial that you teach your horse manners and how to accept paste wormers.
Another benefit to this teaching is that it can make other dental examinations and administering other oral medications much more manageable.
When you want to transport your hoofed friend in a trailer, it can get annoying when they become rowdy and uncooperative. Not only is it dangerous to your well-being if your horse decides to misbehave, your trailer and vehicle could also face massive damage as well.
Loading your horse into its trailer is one of the first things you should teach your companion. Even if you do not plan on transporting your horse, it is still a crucial skill to teach in the event of an emergency vet visit. You may also need to transport your horse during a natural disaster such as a fire or a flood.
While this ground manner may seem silly at first, teaching your horse manners and how to follow the “wait” command is actually a difficult feat. It requires your horse to diligently follow your every command through trust while you have complete control over it regardless of the situation.
You can use the “wait” command to prevent your horses from straying away from you while you have them untethered. It can also be a helpful command to prevent them from becoming over-eager whenever you want to give them a tasty treat.
If your horse is too impatient and aggressive, it can harm other horses by barging through the gates and doors. Teaching each of the horses to be calm and patient is a great way to ensure that the handler and the horse are always on the same page. That way, you can fill their buckets with feed or open a gate without them causing a stir.
Horses are much faster than humans, so human handlers can only catch them when the horse allows it. A horse that has learned proper horse manners and lets itself get caught will not give you a run for your money or waste your time.
If your horse is being fickle and does not seem to care for your time, try understanding what your horse may be thinking. Is the time it spends with you pleasant, or do you only focus on putting it to work? If the latter, try weaving fun and playful times into the schedule rather than having a strict working one.
You could also try rewarding your horse for quickly following your call and building up more positive reinforcement.
Now one ground manner that “ties” into all the rest is teaching your horse to stand quietly while you have them tied to a pole, tree, or even just by their trailer.
This skill is essential because tying your horses down is the first step in performing tasks such as grooming them, putting on their harnesses, or even if you want to make sure they don't stray too far away from you. You should be able to tend to other pressing tasks while your horses stay on their best behavior.
Make sure to teach your horse manners not to be fickle or fussy to prevent pulling, which could cause even more damage to both the horse and the post where you have them tied. If you find yourself having trouble with this tip, try leading the animal around a bit so that it can get used to restricted movement.
Ground manners are imperative for proper horse care and are the foundation for a strong, healthy relationship between you and your horses. Never try to rush the process, as cutting corners can only make your life difficult in the long run. Also, remember to put the safety of both you and your horses first before attempting to teach them something new.
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