Training Horses to Remain Calm in Uncomfortable Situations Part 2: Habituation to Objects & Noise on the Ground



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The dressage rider and horse behavior specialist, Warwick McLean, shows in this video how horses can be reliably prepared for various "scary" competition situations by training on the ground using these methods.

Whether it's getting used to trailers, tarpaulins or umbrellas, what matters first is that the horse reacts to the signals and aids. The basics of relaxed halts and prompt forward and backward walking are essential for further work. In addition, it is important to repeat the steps several times, so that the correct behaviour is fully understood by the horse.

When getting used to noise, Warwick McLean consistently pushes the horse to return to the same spot several times. He repeats these signals until the horse relaxes his body and stops. In addition, it helps to motivate the horse to lower its head. This lowers the blood pressure and contributes to the relaxation due to the association with the feeding posture. For the practice of prize giving and general competition, sound recordings of applause and loud music are very efficient. Habituation is a way for the horse not only to get used to a specific spooky situation but to also learn to trust his rider in unusual situations.

Further videos in this series:

Training Horses to Remain Calm in Uncomfortable Situations Part 1: How Do Horses Learn
Training Horses to Remain Calm in Uncomfortable Situations part 3: Getting Used to Umbrellas

You will learn in this video:

  • How to use groundwork to prepare your horse for stressful situations
  • What type of accessories you can use to practice competition situations
  • What methods to use to get your horse to relax

Warwick McLean

The Australian combines his years of experience in horse behavior training and retraining horses, with his love of dressage, training and competing horses to Grand Prix. Together with his wife, he manages a training stable near Düsseldorf. He also assists with training the horses of Jessica von Bredow-Werndl.

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