Horses are prey animals by nature! Their survival depends on their so-called fight or flight instincts. To survive in the wild they regard anything that is unfamiliar, it could be an object or anything that moves, as a predator. Exposing a horse to as many kinds of farm animals, objects and vehicles is an important training aspect. It falls into the category of trail riding preparation and desensitization training. You never know what type of animals might cross your path and the more you and your horse knows, the calmer you and your horse will likely be when the unexpected happens.
Moving Past Scary Objects
Every horse reacts different. Should you ever be on the trails and you encounter an unfamiliar object, perhaps something that wasn't there the last time, it takes a little patience and confident encouragement to make the horse go by. A seasoned horse my momentarily raise its head, point its eyes and ears toward the object, stop, watch, listen and smell the air for a brief moment, then lower its head and move on swiftly. A frightened horse, however, will plant its feet, balk, snort, fidget, move nervously, refuse to get closer and try to run away.
Now it is up to you, the rider, to make the right call. You can either work with the horse with soft commands and gentle encouragement, or if you feel it is just too unsafe of a situation, you may decide to dismount and try to lead the horse past the unfamiliar obstacle, however, as you may know, there also are hidden pitfalls to dismounting.
Every horse, every trainer and trainer is an individual and every situation is unique. Most seasoned horse owners and trainers feel that they have more control over a horse on its back than from the ground.
- As a trail horse owner you want to get lots of on the road and trail training under your girth (and belt). You don't want a horse that spooks from big trucks or speeding bikes; also your goal is to "get the gait" consistently, without your horse reverting to a trot or pace, balking, or bolting...