How to Get a Shy Horse to Trust

Horses are creatures of flight, not fight. Able to run as swift of the wind, the desire to flee isn't that surprising in a plains animal. If your horse is especially flight, how can you get it to trust that you mean it no harm? Here are some suggestions.


  1. 1
    Don't do anything violent towards the horse. This also includes within earshot of the horse or where it can see you. Violent behaviour sparks the instinct in the horse to flee.
  2. 2
    Provide treats. For especially shy horses, treat them when they let you pet them. Buy horse treats or fruits such as apples. At first, pet the horse where it can see you - neck, shoulders. When you are confident, try rubbing and stroking the horse gently on the cheeks, legs, and hindquarters.
  3. 3
    Pique its curiosity. Horses are curious creatures. It may be worth sitting on a fence, or in the corner of the stable reading out loud or just talking to them; let the horse come to you. If you go to them, this ruins the whole point of the exercise. An animal that feels in control and responding to its own interest is less likely to feel flighty.
    • Let the horse nudge and sniff you before reaching out to pet it.
  4. 4
    Speak quietly and rhythmically around your horse. When out riding, try the simple step of murmuring or talking in a low voice to the horse. Tell your horse about your day! This close communication can help a bond to form and the horse will grow attached to your voice and learn to trust it.
  5. 5
    Keep working on building trust at all times. Trust is an element of time. Never assume that the horse will trust you after a few days. Congratulate your horse both verbally with talking, and physically with petting. Realize that trust needs to worked on continuously.
  6. 6
    Earn trust from your horse by being confident when riding. Horses feel your emotions in the way you ride. You must seem relaxed but alert... practice that stance and work on your confidence.


  • Keep treats on you.
  • Speak quietly or calmly.
  • Don't make sudden movements.


  • Always be careful when petting sensitive areas.
  • Make sure to be careful not to be kicked by the horse when petting hindquarters.

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Categories: Horse Training