Ken McNabb’s Guide to Helping Your Scared Horse Work Through Fear
If you have a fearful or anxious horse, it’s important for you to respond with patience, understanding and a willingness to work at your horse’s pace. Since horses are prey animals in nature, they have developed strong protective instincts as an ingrained part of their equine behavior.
“When helping a horse overcome fear, I want to see him quit fighting to escape and get soft,” shares Ken McNabb. “I don’t want him to get dulled out and insensitive, but rather come to a place of trusting my leadership over the situation, so that I am able to teach him how we can get through it together.”
The following tips from Ken are important to keep in mind as you work to help your horse work through fear:
- Stay Calm and Relaxed – Horses mirror human emotions. Always keep in mind that horses are incredibly sensitive animals and are quick to pick up on your emotions. If you’re feeling anxious or nervous, your horse will sense it and become more fearful. Stay calm and relaxed, and your horse will be more likely to follow your lead.
- Building Trust with Your Horse – It’s important to take small steps when working with your horse. Never try to force your scared horse to confront all its fear at once. Break down each task into small, achievable steps and work on each one individually. For example, if your horse is afraid of a particular object, start by introducing it from a distance. Gradually move the object closer as your horse becomes more comfortable and confident.
- Use Positive Reinforcement – When your horse makes progress, take the opportunity to offer praise, treats, or a break from training as a reward. This positive reinforcement horse training method will encourage your horse to keep trying while helping to build its confidence.
- Be Patient – Overcoming fear is a process for both humans and horses alike. It can take time. Don’t rush your horse or push it too hard. Giving your horse the time it needs to feel comfortable and confident will pay off in the long run.
- Seek Professional Help – If your horse’s fear is severe or you don’t feel confident in your ability to help your horse, seek the help of a professional horse trainer or equine behaviorist. They can provide invaluable guidance and support to help your horse work through fear in a safe, effective manner.
Keep in mind that every horse is different. What works for one horse may not work for another so it’s important to remain patient, understanding and flexible in your approach. Stay the course and you’ll be able to help your horse work through its fear and transform into a more confident and trusting partner.