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How to use your most valuable training tool

Rubbing a horse’s head, neck and around his ears gives him to time to relax. I show every horse that life is easy and pleasant when he has his head with me. Rubbing your horse’s head will be the start of a whole new relationship between you and your horse.

neil-foalWhenever you ask him to do something new or stressful, always follow it with a rub on his head. Your horse will learn that difficult times don’t go on forever and are always followed by a pleasant experience.

You can use this simple lesson to teach your horse new things.

Here’s how:

When a horse is relaxed and confident having his head rubbed, I stand alongside him at his girth and ask him to stand and bring his head around to me. When he does this, I spend time rubbing his head, then repeat the process on his other side.

After a couple of lessons, any horse will learn to stand and keep his head to me when I stand in this position. If he’s worried or stressed by something new, he knows to stand and keep his head to me and it will be a pleasant experience – a rub on the head. I give him an alternative to his normal flight or fight reaction when he’s worried or stressed.

Instead of rushing away, kicking or bucking, he’ll stand and bring his head to me.

I use this simple lesson to handle his legs, sit on his back the first time, introduce a saddle, girth or anything else I want to do.

Instead of chasing a horse in a round yard, harassing him with a flag or a whip, attacking him with ropes, tarps or anything else, all you have to do is teach every horse to stand and look for his reward: a nice rub on his head, neck and around his ears. It sounds simple and it is.

Yes, there is a lot more to horse training, but rubbing a horse’s head opens up a new way of thinking. It paves the way to endless possibilities. When your horse is relaxed, confident and trying his hardest for you, the sky’s the limit.

This mare has learned to stand and bring her head to me when she’s worried.

This mare has learned to stand and bring her head to me when she’s worried.When I ride her for the first time with the saddle, she still tries to stand and keep her head with me. When I ride her for the first time with the saddle, she still tries to stand and keep her head with me.

 

neil-daviesNeil Davies began training horses full-time in 1977. Over the next 15 years, he started more than a thousand horses under saddle and trained thousands of so-called ‘problem’ horses. [read more]

He is the author of Fear-free Horse Training – every step of the way.

Visit Neil’s website at www.fearfreehorsetraining.com.

About the Author

Neil Davies began training horses full-time in 1977. Over the next fifteen years, he started more than a thousand horses under saddle and trained thousands of so-called ‘problem’ horses. From $100 backyard ponies to thoroughbreds worth millions, Neil has seen it all. » Read Neil's profile

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