To establish a calm relationship with your horse, you want to lead instead of dominate. Can you imagine if you attempted to communicate with your friends by forcing them to do what you wanted? You wouldn’t have friends for very long. You can make a horse do whatever you demand, but your horse will be tense and the situation can put you and your horse at risk.
Start by establishing leadership when you are still on the ground, not just when you are in the saddle. Use a gentle touch and build trust so that your horse becomes eager to see you approaching. Have you ever seen someone approach a horse and the horse backs away? Think about how your horse feels and what they see what you come near. Put yourself in the horse’s position so that you can develop methods of approach that will build trust.
A useful technique you can use to start groundwork with yourself involves confidence-building. Use your hands, a rope or a whip and touch the horse around the neck, shoulder, and hindquarters. If you use a whip we are not using it as a corrective device, just as an extension of your hand and arm. Ideally, you will want to proceed around the horse’s body in a kind of rhythm. Horses respond well to repetition.
Most horses will either settle down or display curiosity and either is great as long as the horse seems willing to accept touch. If your horse displays excess tension, back off to let the horse have a breather and then try again. Once the horse is totally calm while being touched on the neck and back you can move to more sensitive areas such as legs and face.
Your horse will quickly grow used to this bonding technique and demonstrate calmness. You can approach each new teaching session on the ground with this repletion and low-stress communication. Doing this exercise will help your horse to be focused and willing so that you can move on to more complex activities. The key is to practice communication with your horse in a way that creates a sense of trust and relaxation.