The Magazine July 2018

Train a better bond with Emma Massingale

Posted 21st May 2020

While it might be something you associate more with the circus, an element of trick training is an invaluable tool every rider should have under their belts. Intrigued? Now’s the perfect time to start learning

The easier your horse is to handle and manage, the more fun you can have together. Just imagine, you can take him anywhere you want, load him from home or away and you don’t need a team of other people around to help you persuade him to put his trust in you. But aside from the everyday activities you do together, what other team-building exercises are there?

By returning fun to the forefront with a touch of trick training, you’ll really boost your bond and encourage your horse to work with you. Teach him how to win at the challenges you give him and you’ll create a more forward-thinking partner who thrives on challenges and problem-solving.

Top tip

Wear a professionally-fitted, up-to-standard riding hat when teaching your horse tricks, ensure you’re in a safe and confined area, such as an arena.

In it to win it

Horses are the ultimate people-pleasers – they’re naturally inclined to want to work with their riders. By providing your horse with an understandable objective, just as you should do when you ride him, you give him an end-goal so he doesn’t become bored or frustrated.

When it comes to trick training, it’s important to set guidelines – tasks must be safe and there has to be a clear win for your horses. For instance, a popular trick some people aspire to teach their horses is to rear on command, but I’d urge you to question this! If rearing becomes your horse’s go-to reaction when he’s excited, nervous or a bit exuberant, you’ll quickly find yourself in trouble.

Give us a smile

This is quite a fun trick to add to your training because who doesn’t want their horse to smile at them? In turn, it never fails to make me smile and once your horse is familiar with it, you never know when he might try it out – he may end up doing it as he waits for his breakfast in the morning, or while waiting at the gate for you to bring him in. It’s a

non-demanding trick, too – more like a brainteaser.

Cue? I scrunch and unscrunch my finger, and say ‘smile’ for a verbal cue. Start by using both cues together, but work towards needing to only use the visual cue as your horse progresses.

Props? I use a bit of toothpaste in the tube, but you need to find something that smells unusual to your horse. Maybe jam, perfume, cod liver oil or even hoof oil. Plus, pony nuts or balancer pellets as a reward.

To find out how to teach your horse Emma’s favourite tricks, get your copy of July Horse&Rider out now

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