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4 things you need in order to successfully walk your horse outside

Updated: 5 hours ago

First let’s define what successfully means when it comes to interacting with your horse.

I have found a great proverb for that:

What if succes was measured by the amount of safety a horse feels in our presence?

Succes is the forthcoming of the outcome you desired. You can be successful at freaking out and letting a situation escalate. Or you can be successful at handling a situation in a way that calms down the nervous systems, creates safety and opens the door for joy.

The latter we want for walking our horses. First and foremost we want it to be a joyful experience for the horses and us. So we can actually take in the enriching experience of seeing, smelling, feeling the world - outside our and their comfort zone.

Success then becomes the ability to make the world - and all its variables - our comfort zone.

Think of it as traffic light areas. You have green zones - probably the stables, paddock, field and maybe the property. Here, the horse feels safe and confident to wander, rest and engage with you.

Then you have yellow zones, where the horse gets alert. Preparing for possible happenings that he doesn’t know how to handle. For some horses this is a certain distance to the herd, loud noises, traffic, unfamiliar sights, strange objects and so on. He’s not yet freaked out, he’s still communicating but he does show signs of distress like wide flaring nostrils, wide open eyes with white showing or wrinkles around them, a higher head and tense body posture. He might tip one hind leg to prepare to move fast.

The red zone - a zone we preferably don’t enter - is where the horse goes into figh, flight or freeze. He’s not longer responsive to aids or cues or even comforting from us. The tension is at its maximum, ready to get loose. In this state, no training or learning can take place, it’s pure instinctive reaction.

So you can’t blame a horse for bolting when suddenly a plastic bag or cyclist appears. The whole situation had it coming and a horse is just a horse.

However in the green zone, we can teach and prepare a horse to broaden the zones, built trust in us and itself and have coping mechanism at disposal. The more often we do that, the stronger it all gets. And the wider the zones get.

It’s a dance of sweet spots, a back and forth of safety and challenge.

When we time this right, do the work, show up and give in trust first, the horses eventually follow. Until they follow you everywhere.

Let’s sum up, you need:

  1. Trust - in each other

  2. Confidence - in yourself

  3. Repetition - on a good experiences

  4. Coping mechanism - techniques to calm down when poop does hit the fan

Have you mapped out the zones for your hose?

How far along the way would you put yourself and your horse on those 4 points?

And how much time are you willing to give you both?

Because time my friends, that is the secret ingredient.

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