De-Spooking the Dressage Horse with Wendy Christoff

Keep in mind that first, horses are flight animals, and second, they are herd animals that like to follow a leader. You cannot control a horse's instincts, but what you can control is your reaction. Becoming tense and clutching at the reins, or punishing the horse for spooking, are never the answer. You can either make it worse and increase the flight response, or you can make it better by staying calm and becoming the leader. "Bring it On" Days Unless you train in a completely controlled setting, there are always potentially spooky things around your training environment, such as baby strollers and barking dogs. Spooky objects are also virtually guaranteed to be part of any horse show environment. Every few months at my barn, my students and I stage what we call a "bring it on" day. We introduce potentially spooky objects - tarps, umbrellas, plastic bags full of…

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