With winter coming, not all of us are blessed with a covered arena. While I ride pretty much year around in Colorado, there are days when I can't. Plus, I always give my horses Sunday off! So, if you can't ride, here are some Bonding ideas you can do in the barn or around the field.
1. Take your horse for a walk! Yes, just like a dog! Go for a walk together. Enjoy nature. Let him graze a bit, As you walk, touch him a lot! Talk to him.
2. Do carrot stretches. This is a favorite and helps stretch the horse's top line at the same time. Break a carrot into small pieces. Stand to his side and make him reach around toward his ribs to get the carrot. Repeat with the carrot in different positions, both high and low and on both sides as well as in front.
3. Just sit in the pasture while your horse is on turnout. Watch him and wait for him to notice you. It is interesting to see what he does.When he approaches you, simply stay put. If he is lying down, go sit beside him.
4. Teach your horse some tricks. Tricks aren't just for circus horses you know. It is a fun way of training and bonding. I taught one of my horses how to bow. First I had him follow my hand down in order for him to get the treat in my hand. Then, with a crop, I tapped his near foreleg and held the treat by his knee. Gradually, I made him bend his knee to get the treat. Then lower and lower until he was resting his knee on the ground. Treats are the key to teaching tricks!!!
5. Everyone likes a message, even or perhaps I should say "especially" horses. You don't have to do your usual grooming. Just spend some time rubbing those hard to reach spots. Horses love their ears rubbed, their withers rubbed, the croup or hipbones, and even the underside of the tail. Find the spot your horse loves. Watch his eyes droop when you hit the spot!
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