Sometimes humans like to show us off, along with their talents, at a horse show. Depending on the horse, this can be scary, exciting, or just interesting. When we see new things, we don’t really understand them and so we react, like any horse would, by first trying to get away and then by trying to understand it. If we can’t figure it out or if the human can’t help explain it, we will feel very unsafe and avoid it at all costs. Things that keep moving or things that we have to move towards before we are ready are especially frightening. Here are a few things humans can do to help their horses feel better at a horse show (or anywhere, really).
- If we are trying to run away from it, don’t make us go head on towards it. Our eyes are on the side of our heads. If you try to get us to go directly towards something we don’t understand, we can’t see it very well and we get very scared. We will not obey you because we will think you are crazy. Let us go by it with our side facing it so we can see it really well with one eye. And don’t make us get too close until we’ve been able to look at it a few times. Oh yea. And then repeat the process with the other eye. We see separately out of both eyes, so we have to look at things out of both eyes to understand them fully.
- Don’t yell at us. When you yell and we are scared, we get more scared because clearly there is something to be upset about! Don’t forget, you as the human are trying to be our leader. If you are acting a bit anxious and loud we will follow your lead. Then there is no way we are going near that thing.
- Let us keep moving. We feel safe when we can move our feet. Don’t ask us to stand still when we are really anxious. Then we feel like sitting ducks.
- Let us eat. Chewing helps us relax. For real. I’m not just saying that because I like to eat.
- Give us a buddy. Safety in numbers, right? Sometimes our humans are enough of a herd for us. But if you aren’t feeling confident, it helps us to have a horse buddy who does feel confident. We will do almost anything to stay with our herd leader, and when that isn’t you and it isn’t me, it needs to be another brave horse!
- Don’t forget, our horse-human relationship is supposed to be fun!