JULIE GOODNIGHT shares her lessons
on her RFD-TV show, Horse Master (also
online at tv.juliegoodnight.com), and through
clinics and expos. HEIDI MELOCCO (www.
whole-picture.com) is a lifelong horsewoman,
equine journalist, and photographer.
first spooked him. Again, I relax, loosen the reins and offer
praise by petting him on the neck. I can’t force a horse to
investigate something, but I can rule out flight and help him
know that the right answer is to stand still and look at what
spooked him. Eventually he will want to move forward.
As the horse teeters between flight and investigative
behaviors, I praise forward interest but keep him in the same
place and do not let him look away. When I feel that he
wants to move forward—his ears are pricked and his nose
reaches out—I ask him to take two steps forward, then stop
again. I take a deep breath and encourage him to be calm.
/ Practice Bravery /
On a regular basis, I like to put something new and novel
in my horses’ environments. Soon your horse will look at
approaching them as a game.
As he approaches more new things, you’ll find that your
he will convert from spooking to investigating much more
quickly. While you can’t rule out flight, you can help your
horse learn to convert from fear to investigation much faster.
If he gets lots of kudos for being brave, he will learn to
seek out that feeling. Your horse doesn’t want to be afraid.
Replacing flight with bravery will help you approach anything new and to help calm your spooky horse.
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In the Saddle & Beyond
Put new objects
in your horse’s
environment so that
becomes a game.