For the enthusiast, taking care of a horse and improving the quality of riding is often a simple matter of employing common sense. Keeping a stall or corral clear, and free of hazards will ensure the animal’s safety, in the same way keeping a child’s room tidy will prevent accidents. Correct feeding and exercise will promote good health in the animal, as well as it does with humans. Training on a regular basis will lead to better performance on the part of the horse, just as it would on the part of an athlete.
A horse spends a lot of time in a stall or a corral, and keeping these areas clean is important to maintaining good health. The horse’s skin and hair are somewhat of an air conditioning system that adjusts with the climate. Keeping the animal clean will promote good functions in this regard. As for washing a horse, a mild shampoo will work just fine and, just as with humans, it should be rinsed thoroughly.
As for feeding supplements, a reasonable person would not eat power food, then sit down to watch television and go to bed. The same holds true with a horse. Grain is fine before doing a fair amount of exercise, such as a trail ride or Gymkhana type events. The extra calories and sugars will be burned as fuel. However, graining the animal before a training session will make the horse over energized, with the physiological need to burn that fuel. When this happens, good communication has been lost, since both the horse and rider are no longer on the same page.
Understanding the nature of the animal goes a long way toward knowing what will have a positive result, and what to avoid in training, and in everyday associations. A dog is basically aggressive by nature, and they respond to communication that is delivered in a firm manner. Conversely, horses are timid by nature, and by recognizing this, communicating with the animal can be relatively straightforward and uncomplicated.
Obviously, the best horse and rider teams are the ones that work in rhythm. Whether riding or grooming, talking to the horse in a calm, even tone will put the otherwise timid animal at ease. Smooth and even movements around a horse are important as well. Once a horse becomes familiar with a person’s manner and tempo, that animal will be relaxed and responsive.
Along with common sense, patience and consistency are essential elements in the care and training of a horse. When the animal can begin to expect certain things, and is given time to absorb new things, the door is open for establishing trust, and a bond.