Trust building exercises

It’s been a while since Cee and I did any trust building exercises, so tonight I decided to refresh our memories…

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I had been thinking about it while at work today and since he’s been on full livery, we spend less time together day to day and bonding on the ground. And like the quote says – without trust, you have nothing.

It’s so true! I trust him implicitly when riding, but I also want him to trust me back and always know I’d never compromise his safety or wellbeing.

We made the most of this exciting new thing called ‘daylight after work’ and hacked a lap of the fields. However, the heavens opened and we got soaking so when we returned home, I put him in the solarium to dry and gave him a good scratch and a groom. It felt good to be giving him attention and brushing him to make him feel good, rather than for a purpose such as to ride. I looked out for signs that he was enjoying it; the wobbly lower lip and the grooming me back.

We then went in the indoor school just in headcollar and lead rope and practiced these simple exercises:

  • Walking away from him with purposeful steps and observing whether or not he follows, even when changing direction
  • Stopping purposefully and observing whether he stops as soon as I do, never overtaking me
  • Standing to face him head on, touching his chest and expecting him to step back
  • Standing to the side of him, applying pressure to his rump and expecting him to move away from my touch
  • Doing all of the above with no headcollar and rope, but expecting the same results

He seemed to really enjoy these exercises and was licking and chewing – a sign of trust. I could tell that it was like a fun game for him following me around the arena and waiting for me to stop. Like that playground game “grandmother’s footsteps” that we used to play at school!

Recently, he has been acting up with the staff at the yard and spinning his hindquarters at the stable door when the they enter, not letting them catch him. To try and combat this I stood in his box while he ate his dinner, just being there and hanging out with him. I also left his halter on as he had dinner, so he doesn’t only associate wearing it with work. I may also start grooming him in his stable more as I usually tie him outside. Hopefully this will cure the problem – I don’t want to be known as the one with the naughty horse!

Overall, I loved spending quality time with my boy and I will definitely schedule more in soon!



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