How to Gain a Horse's Trust

Nothing is more rewarding than a loving bond between horse and handler. Here's how to create that trust between you and your horse!


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    Groom your horse often. For horses, grooming is a sign of trust, and a way to strengthen bonds. Take some time every day to gently groom your horse. If you don't know how to groom a horse, ask an experienced rider to help you.
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    Give treats. Healthy fruit make good treats, and your horse will associate you with the good taste. However, if you do this too much, the association between you and treats can lead to nipping. Avoid feeding your horse sugar lumps or candy, as they're unhealthy.
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    Spend lots of time just hanging out. It can be easy to want to jump out and just ride your horse, but you must always remember that sometimes what they need is a walk around, grass walking, leading and/or lunging can strengthen a bond between horses and handlers magnificently.
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    Be gentle while putting on tack. Be gentle and cautiously slow, but don't be scared. If you are just waiting for your horse to put up a stink about the saddle, blanket etc., your horse will be able to tell and will tense up as you do. If you aren't sure how to properly put on tack, again ask an experienced rider to help you. Points to remember include:
    • Always groom your horse before tacking up.
    • When putting on the saddle and saddle pad, put it a little in front of where you want it to go. Then, slide it back; you'll avoid rubbing the hair, which can be uncomfortable.
    • Be careful and gentle while putting the bit on.
    • Check that the straps and girth aren't too tight.
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    Always ride your horse with his safety and comfort in mind. Never bully your horse, or force him to do more work than he can do. Be firm while riding, as this reassures him that he doesn't have to worry about anything, but don't be cruel.
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    Bond through lunging. Lunging is a great way to bond with your horse. For more details, How to lunge a horse.
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    Take lessons. If you hire an experienced rider, you'll be able to learn a lot, and she can give you tips for building a bond and insuring your horse's comfort.


  • If you're unsure about something, always go to an experienced rider.


  • Use common sense and safety whenever interacting with horses or ponies.
  • Sometimes the best thing to do is to quit while you are ahead. It is very easy to say "Yay, we got the saddle on without her freaking out! Now let's try just leaving her in the ring to deal with it." That can be a recipe for disaster.

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Categories: Buying and Owning a Horse | Horses