Sunday, February 17, 2013

Nervous Nellies

     With show season starting, I thought I'd comment on something we should all know but that's sometimes forgotten:  All horses will be nervous their first few times out.  Some horses seem much quieter and calmer than they really are so remember, your horse needs you to be calm, quiet and cool.  If you are nervous and edgy or rushed, it only confirms to your horse that there really is a need to be nervous and prepared to flee.  You are their herd leader and they will "follow" you if they trust and respect you and feel you'll take care of them.
     Horses are emotional beings.  They have all the basic emotions that we experience and the difference is they only have them in real time.  They don't experience dread nor do they fret when resting.  In your training and show preparation, teach your horse to focus on you and his job.  A focused horse is a calm horse.  A horse that knows his job will be more confident.  Don't introduce new material, new ways of riding etc., at a horse show or similar new circumstance.  Above all else, ride your horse, not someone elses.  In other words, don't copy things that you haven't practiced on at home - ride as close as possible to the way you do at home. 
     You may be nervous too but be patient and don't get emotional.  Horses do not deal with human emotions well.  Don't become frustrated or angry, it only makes bad things worse.  I see many very talented horses ruined this way at shows.  Remember, take care of your horse first and there will always be another horse show!  See you next week.   JD

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