How to Approach a Horse - Step by Step Guide

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Index
  1. How to Approach a Horse - Step by Step Guide
    1. #1 Hearing
    2. #2 Vision
    3. #3 Touch
    4. #4 Smell
  2. Enjoy This Video Tutorial About Horses

How to Approach a Horse - Step by Step Guide

Throughout the entire process of tackling a horse, it is important to watch their body language, as well as being aware of your own. The horse's body language will give us clues as to whether it feels safe and comfortable when we approach it or if it makes it nervous or aggressive.

Negative signs to look out for are rear-facing ears, increased tail wagging, stomping your leg on the ground, or moving the rear end toward you. If you are inexperienced and the horse shows any of these signs, it would be best to ask someone with more experience to accompany you.

Since you're paying attention to the horse's body language, it's important to keep an eye on yourself as well. It has been argued (and it rings true in our experience) that horses are susceptible to our moods and can sense if they are lacking in confidence. Not all horses will try to take advantage of this, but some might. So try to stay calm and approach slowly but confidently.

The way we approach a horse also varies slightly depending on whether it's in a stable, field, paddock or trailer, but regardless of location there are certain basic rules that should always be followed and they essentially boil down to to a grassroots approach. on the horse's senses in the order listed below.

#1 Hearing

Before you approach a horse, you want to let it know you're there and the best way to do that is to just engage in a little light conversation.

The goal is to keep in touch with the horse's ear and let it know where you are. Your voice will not only allow him to hear which direction you are approaching and how close you are, but it will also allow him to gauge your state of mind and mood. So make sure you speak calmly but clearly and with a friendly intonation.

#2 Vision

After listening to you, you now need to make sure that your horse can see you. Horses are prey animals and the position of their eyes gives them excellent peripheral vision to spot attractive danger.

However, they also have two blind spots; one directly in front of the nose that extends approximately 4 feet (1.2 meters) in front of them and one directly behind the tail. For this reason, always approach a horse at an angle where you can see it so you don't accidentally startle it and create a potentially dangerous situation.

#3 Touch

When you approach and the horse hears and sees you, it's a good idea to place a hand on his shoulder or neck to greet him and establish physical contact. Be nice and pat him for letting you into his personal space.

Touching the shoulder and lower neck first is generally a good idea, as reaching for the head right away can scare or irritate some horses. Build this up by first touching other less susceptible areas.

#4 Smell

Once you are close to the horse and have established contact with him, offer your hand for him to smell. Horses have a highly developed sense of smell and often enjoy sniffing out new horses and people they meet.

Although we don't know exactly if the horse can recognize our scent, it is good manners to give it a chance to sniff.

Enjoy This Video Tutorial About Horses

Source: Utah State University Extension

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