Posted by on Dec 24, 2012 in Training Blog | No Comments

Tips in Keeping a Horse’s Attention

If you wish to teach anything to a horse, you need to get and keep his attention first. Without complete and focused attention towards its trainer, the horse will not be able to learn. That’s why you need to master the art of getting and keeping your horse’s attention first. In teaching your horse how to follow your orders and movements, you will notice that a lot of things take his attention away from you. And as its leader, you need to be able to keep bringing his attention back to you as many times as needed. Horsemanship, that is getting the attention of the horse towards you doesn’t mean that you will make loud noises or do things to cause him to get overexcited. What you really want to aim for is for you to be able to make use of body languages and positions which will catch his attention and allow him to follow your movements and directions easily.Keeping the horse's attention

The nature of horses is that they can only focus on one thing at a time. You need to make sure your body position is noticeable enough for you to get his complete attention. Horsemanship won’t really be totally difficult because horses are always observant of other objects, people and situations making sure they’re ready to move away when they sense danger. One of the best positions you can take is to stand beside your horse where your shoulders are parallel to his body. To make it more effective, you can scratch his body while being in that position and find points where he seems to feel good being scratched. When you make him feel good, it will be automatic that his attention will turn towards you. You should also expect that other things might turn away his attention from you but you have to keep bringing him back and his attention towards you.

Natural Horsemanship: Stay Calm While Working on Getting his Attention

Natural Horsemanship will become especially challenging for a young horse because he is not familiar with many things on his surroundings yet so anything mild can quickly drift his attention. He is still operating on self-preservation mode and follows his instinct for survival. So, in horse training you need to be extremely patient with him. You need to stay calm while working on getting his attention back and giving him assurance that everything is okay. Furthermore, you need to get his trust on you as his leader who will look after his safety and protection.
When it comes to teaching young horses how to heed or follow your directions using body positions and body languages, you should expect that you won’t be able to get a lot of his attention. Aim to get his attention at least 50 % of the time in the very beginning. Slowly, as you earn his trust and as you build partnership with him, you will be able to increase this percentage. Eventually, you will have a horse that heeds your directions, positions and orders and things will go a lot more smoothly.

Natural Horsemanship is important for you to keep your cool and stay relaxed while relating to your horse. This is because your horse depends on your reactions and emotions. They look up to you on what their reaction should be when something strange comes along. If they see that you are relaxed and calm despite an encounter with a strange situation or object, your horse will follow this and become relaxed too. If he can sense tension and stress from your reaction when something comes along, he will get confused, scared, unsure and you would expect him to quickly move away from you and the object or situation encountered. Therefore, at all times, you need to show him that you are in control and that there is nothing to fear.

When this kind of trust is built, your horse will easily and automatically heed your directions, positions, orders and movements. When you stand in parallel to your horse’s body for example and you want him to follow your speed of walking, you simply walk and allow him to follow in the very same speed. If you have gained his trust on you as a leader, you will notice that teaching him how to walk won’t be a problem and he will easily follow your speed. When you change directions for example, he should also heed and follow your direction if you have gained his trust.

In Natural Horsemanship, the key to maintaining his attention is to also keep your attention on him. Even if anyone comes along for example, don’t focus your attention alone on that person without properly putting aside your horse first. Make sure you that you have him under control.

Natural Horsemanship: Be More Understanding of his Needs

You also have to see to it that his environment is relaxed and free from stress. Even when you see him disobey or when he doesn’t heed to your directions for example, you need not punish him because it will be of no use. Just ask him to do it again in a calm manner and give him time to follow your directions. Be clear about what you want him to do and make sure you are not sending multiple messages.

Also make sure you do not overwork your horse when you are training him or working on anything with him. When you notice that after hours of training his attention starts to drift away and you are having a hard time than usual to gain his focus back, perhaps it is time to finish your work and give him some rest. Also, be observant when he doesn’t seem to be in the mood due to certain physical discomfort which may be the culprit of why you are totally having a hard time getting his attention.

You shouldn’t be too hard on your horse and you need to have an open mind and be more understanding of his needs, his motivations and behavior in order for you to establish a great working relationship with him. This is the real essence of Natural Horsemanship.

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