Whether you are heading out for your first time in the saddle or you have spent more time in the saddle than out of it in your lifetime, it is important to take all necessary steps and precautions to ensure that your riding experience is as safe as it is enjoyable. One of the best ways to do this is to ensure that you have a safe horse.
Bonding And Trust
Having a “safe” and “reliable” horse doesn’t mean going out and finding the oldest, most bomb-proof horse on the market. Sure, when purchasing your horse, there are certain things you will need to consider as far as how the horse will treat you, and vice versa. What it really comes down to is this: does your horse trust you? Do you trust your horse? If your answer was anything but an assured “yes”, it’s time to get to work.
Building a bond and ensuring that there is trust between you and your horse should be one of the first things you do as a horse owner. In order to work together as a cohesive team, the two of you have to be on the same page, regarding all things. Remember: horses are Take some time out of the saddle to work one-on-one with your horse. Groundwork can be extremely beneficial, and it is a great way for you and your horse to get to know each other. Try to get a feel for how your horse communicates; they are doing the same thing with you!
A safe horse will make a judgment call on when to use their natural fight-or-flight response. No rider wants a horse that spooks at the drop of a pin. While of course it is normal for horses to be wary or cautious in certain situations, dealing with a horse that spooks easily can turn into a very dangerous situation, for both the horse and rider.
Make sure that your horse is comfortable enough with you as their rider that they will trust your signals, reassuring them that something is safe. If an opportunity for a spook arrives, your horse should be able to place their trust in you.
Mind Your Manners
A large part of ensuring that a horse is safe to be around and reliable as a companion is that they are well-mannered and respectful of what is being asked of them. A safe horse should have no trouble with standing to be shod, standing still for mounting, lifting their feet to be picked, and moving back from the gate or the front of the stall when their rider enters. If you have found that your horse has trouble with these things, take the time to practice them until they completely understand what you are asking of them.
Ensuring that your horse is reliable should be your number one priority, and going forward with the information you learned here will ensure that both you and your horse can safely enjoy your time together.