In most instances, when the horse is irritated while being ridden, he is irritated
at the rider. Rethink what you are doing, and soften and slow down your cues.
Most importantly, give the horse a break whenever he puts forth effort. If you ask
something of your horse and he does it, stop asking.
Because horses are so tuned in to movement, use your own gestures to help your
horse know what you expect.
I communicate constantly with my horses using hand gestures. When doing
groundwork, I always teach the horse hand signals to speed up, slow down, turn,
stop and back up.
For instance, when I ask my horse to move off in the round pen or on the longe,
I always point first in the direction I want him to go, then reinforce that cue with
my voice, then with the rope of flag. With timely and appropriate reinforcement,
the horse moves promptly when I point and send him off.
When you learn to communicate with your horse using simple gestures, he will
respond softly and automatically. When you use gestures purposefully, you’re speaking a language your horse understands and improving your relationship with him.
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.
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Pawing can mean that
a horse is impatient
or bored. Wait until
he stops pawing to
reapproach him so that
you don’t accidentally
reward the behavior.