It’s a strong, agile, noble creature – and it follows you with gentility. The horse exudes an eerie trust for its human companion. This is a little understood relationship, one of mutual respect, of honor and of dignity. The horse. The human. It is living wonder on display.
And you. You are the horse’s trainer and owner; you are the one who is presenting this horse, your horse, for a show. You want to make sure your horse is prepared mentally. This is where you will learn to exercise a horse.
Horse Showing: Mentally Preparing the Horse for the Show
We at World Equestrian Center (WEC), the largest indoor equine facility in the United States, will discuss some ways to prepare your horse for a show.
Recent research reveals that the temperament of horses varies nearly as widely as that of their human counterparts. Their bond with their human companions and their emotional capacity to connect with their trainers are often underestimated or overlooked.
According to Discovery.com, horses may understand and value their relationship with humans better than previously thought. Horses’ unique and powerful ability to bond with humans may be a hereditary offshoot of their time in the wild when the need to stay connected to their herds – their horse friends and relatives – was paramount for survival.
“Horses maintain long-term bonds with several members of their family group, but they also interact temporarily with members of other groups when forming herds,” said researcher Carol Sankey in Animal Behavior. “Equid social relationships are long-lasting and, in some cases, lifelong.”
Horses Have Long-Term Memories
Sankey said horses’ “excellent memories” allow them to connect with humans on a deeper level than other animals and gives them the ability to recall relationships from more than ten years prior.
However, in the busy and potentially distracting atmosphere of a show, horses can get skittish and nervous, requiring additional reassurance and direction from you. While training and exercising on familiar grounds at home, put your horse at ease and allow your horse to focus on your directions; the show arena is strange and potentially threatening.
With the additional show-time jitters, your horse may behave differently, finding the extra nervous energy difficult to manage. Your job is to help your horse to exercise off that energy prior to a show with some short walks.
Your goal is to show patience, confidence and reassurance while at the same time keeping your horse focused on the show’s upcoming events. While your horse may draw closer to you in the environment of a show for that emotional connection, it may also be constantly looking around and examining its surroundings.
Keep your horse moving, keep it focused, reassured and relaxed. That way both of you can enjoy the show.
WEC is a complete, full-service show facility, designed and operated by a family who owns and shows horses. Call us today for more information or to book a show!