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Building Confidence


Patch, learning how to be confident around unpredictable obstacles

This phase of training is often overlooked in the development of a young horse. So many of the horses that come to me for training have never been taught how to think for themselves, problem-solve and self regulate their emotions and instincts. Most of them were either taught early on to rely completely on the trainer (which isn't practical for a horse that then goes back to his owner or is sold to someone else later) or they were just products of their environment and never learned how to settle or be confident in new situations.


Horses that have spent too much time in the arena suffer from their world being so "small" that the slightest change could set them off into a flight or fight spiral leaving their owners afraid to try anything new. And horses that have spent all of their time outside and have never been in a barn or seen any obstacles can surprisingly have a similar reaction to the environmental change.


The bottom line is most horses out there for sale are under exposed in certain environments. It is crucial, therefore, as the owner, that you get a solid understanding of where your horse is and is not comfortable and what confidence holes your horse might have. When your horse gives you trouble and becomes afraid or defensive, this isn't personal, it is feedback that he needs more exposure in a certain area. When you look at your horse's training as an unending educational process, things will be less frustrating and your horse will be much more willing to trust your leadership.


When your horse gives you trouble and becomes afraid or defensive, this isn't personal, it is feedback that he needs more exposure in a certain area.


As always - if you feel stuck and don't have the answer (which to be honest none of us have ALL the answers) then make sure to do some research and find someone who can help advance you past the issue. You alone are responsible for making sure your horse is getting what he needs. Make sure to try new things, cross-train, mix up those routines and you will produce a well-rounded and educated horse.

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