Developing Confident Horses
October 25, 2015
Foreword (Understanding our riding conditions.)
We use horses for pleasure and also for range rescue work, sometimes in crowded situations, other times riding over some very difficult country. They have to remain calm and focused when working alongside ATVs, under helicopters, riding among bands of wild horses, encountering rattlesnakes, blowing tumbleweeds and other less than desirable conditions.
We use mustangs, former "wild free-roaming horses," for the rescue team. It's not that we don't appreciate other horse breeds, but the mustangs are comfortable in this environment. They handle the terrain well since they grew up in it. They are not fazed by free-range livestock, wildlife, and occasional charges by band stallions who consider us to be intruding on their territory.
Our horses also have to be confident on city streets, in crowds and in situations that are completely foreign to what they experienced growing up on the range. There can be lots of "artificial" stimulation: many simultaneous sounds, unfamiliar smells, and lots of movement by vehicles and people. The sources of these sounds and smells can be visually blocked by buildings or other obstructions. Our horses have to extend a great deal of trust to us as their leader-riders to remain confident.
Some of our best horses were hand-me-downs, considered undesirable or untrainable by their previous owners. Others were acquired for next to nothing at wild horse adoptions because they just didn't appeal to people. However it took relatively little work to develop these horses into solid mounts.
The objective of this feature is to illustrate how we developed trustworthy horses in a relatively short period of time. We don't think we have all the answers, but we have found some approaches that have worked consistently well.
Continue to Part Two:
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