How do I relax my tense Horse?
Note: The following excerpt is the transcript from a question I answered from my Facebook Live made in the Steady Horse Facebook Group on 8/7/19. Watch the video or read the text below to learn the answer to the question.
So you hear me say a lot, take a nice big deep breath in those stressful situations. If my horse is getting tense somewhere, engage a pattern interrupt. I want you to interrupt that thought process of the anxiety of the tension and divert that energy into an exercise (backing up, sending in a circle, moving the hindquarters). Nice and quietly work on an exercise until your horse begins to: lower the head, take a deep breath, soften the cadence.
Once they become relaxed and comfortable, go back to whatever you were doing. If they get tense again, then again pattern interrupt. Interrupt that thought process and divert it to something that they practice, that they know how to do, that they can do comfortably so you’re building their confidence. Encourage them that they can get through this.
You have the tools; you’ve done these exercises. If you do that slowly but surely in those situations, your horse will learn that even in the tense situations that they can count on you to give them the leadership they need to get out of that. But even more important than that, you will build their confidence and they have what it takes to get through those situations. So just like with everything else, be gradual, take your time, you know, don’t look for overnight success with this, but make sure you’re vigilant and looking for a little progress with your horse and reward them for it.