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Releasing Tension

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   July 28, 2011 07:18

In the last issue we discussed communicating to your horses mind and working towards releasing your horse’s fear, tension and insecurities. In this issue of releasing tension we are going to move towards the next step in communicating to your horse’s mind and reaching deeper into the body to create a soft and willing partner.


Think of horses in their natural environment and how they act in every day life. When they are threatened by predators they will run, when they are alert they will raise their heads up and perk their ears forward. When they are confident in their leadership they will be relaxed and graze with their heads down.  By observing these simple forms of body language we are able to not only create a form of communication that will allow our horse to trust us but also allow us to reach into our horse and release tension.


While your horse is wearing a halter and lead rope take one hand and pull gently down on the lead shank, remember it is not a tug of war so use just enough pressure that you can feel the tension in your horse. When you feel that tension release and your horse’s head soften downward you want to release your hand so your horse understands that softening to the pressure is what you want. If your horse braces on you and freezes up like a mule (sorry to all you mule lovers) try not to increase your downward pressure. Instead keep the same pressure but move your hand from left to right, which will create more stimulation on the halter to generate a more in depth conversation. Continue this process so you can consistently soften your horse’s head down with as little pressure as possible.


This exercise allows you to soften your horse to pressure and allow any tension, fear or nervousness to be released and put your horse in a grazing state of mind where he is trusting in your leadership. When your horse understands this exercise you can start to soften him whenever you feel his mind leave you, for example when someone slams a door in the barn or kids happen to run through the barn kicking a big pink ball and your horses attention shifts into head up and ears forward or possibly into flight mode. You can now shift his mind set to you by simply softening him and focusing him on your leadership.


Jon Cooper

Trusted Training