Horses are very intelligent and emotionally responsive animals. Working with a new or skittish horse can be tricky and sometimes dangerous. Horses are large and powerful and need to be treated cautiously so they don’t hurt the person trying to work with them.
It is vital that a person earns the trust of each equine individually and not assume any horse will automatically be receptive to them. There are a few techniques a handler can use to earn the trust of a shy or jumpy horse. Taking the time to get to know a horse’s quirks and what it enjoys will go a long way to earning its trust.
Horses are known for being jumpy but don’t expect to run through horse jump gates on your first ride. Approach a horse calmly from the side. Be aware of the horse’s posture and mannerisms.
If the horse is ok with being touched, stroke or scratch its muzzle and nose softly. This can calm it and allow it to feel safe. Don’t pat a horse, however, as this is not a natural thing horses respond to and it may spook them.
Just like people, horses like to be rewarded when they accomplish something. Offering a horse a healthy treat of crunchy fruits or vegetables is a great way to show them that they are doing great and that this person is trustworthy.
Make sure to offer any treats cautiously to ensure the horse doesn’t accidentally bite the hand of the person feeding it. Once a horse comes to trust a person, they will be less likely to bite.
Working with a new animal, especially one as large and powerful as a horse, takes skill, patience, and practice. Always work with a professional trainer when getting started and enjoy building a solid relationship with this beautiful animal.