Establishing Trust

  • I was looking for some opinions and schools of thought on the owner - horse relationship. I have a 7 year old appy mare, she has been home to home for most of her life, she is very anxious in the stall and when handled, I feel that she constantly expects she is going to be rehomed again. She has been with me 5 months and she has improved significantly but she reacts very anxiously to change - a horse left the barn last week and she called for him for 3 days, weaved and box walked and did not settle when I spoke to her or tried to reassure me. When I first had her she would not come to me in the paddock but now she comes to call, and seeks me out if I am doing work around the fence line.

    How can I encourage her to trust me more and build our bond? she is far too anxious to take showing or trail rides off our land as she is frightened of the float at the moment. I am positive and I know it will improve but i want to do what is best for her and help her settle

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  • Some horses, just like some people, are more anxious and less able to deal with changes in their lives. Trust and bonding take time. These are established by consistent honesty and fairness. It sounds like you are helping your mare progress. Don’t overburden yourself with concern. It is often harder to achieve emotional change that it is to achieve physical obedience. Understand that you cannot only present opportunities. The horse must do the changing.

  • Thank you Don. She has been really stressed this week as a new gelding came to the barn and she is not sure whether she likes him!

  • Hi Cara, I have a suggestion that you will likely think is a little out there. :) We were having issues with our mare and had tried everything to figure out what she needed (vet and tests, chiropractor). Our trainer finally as a last resort recommended an animal communicator. She knew of one that had worked with some local people and it was amazing what she knew. She doesn't want any information up front that would lead her in the reading. She was very helpful with our mare, so when we got an OTTB gelding, I thought it would be helpful to have a reading for him. He was very high strung and nervous. He didn't know us of course and it's always difficult for a horse to move even under the best circumstances. After the reading, we went to see him and he was so happy! It's like he knew we cared and were listening. This communicator works over the phone with a photo of the horse. I'll include a link to her website. I know this probably sounds crazy, but I have used Susan a few times for all three of our horses and she has always been a big help. She has testimonials on her website. This may not be for you, but if you're interested in trying it, here's more info www.susanderen.com/animalreadings.html I hope she feels more secure. It sounds like she finally found a good and secure home.

  • I think mares always tend to be a little more unsettled than geldings, I am sure it is not helped by their seasons. Does she change when she is due for her season/during her season/around geldings and if she comes into contact with stallions at all? It could be one variable that may help with her behavior to start on a herbal remedy for regulating her hormones. They can do no harm, just perhaps aid her hormones

  • Yes, just perhaps aid her hormones

  • Do more ground pen work, get those feet moving and build the connection. I have a range of horses that we've rehabbed from two year olds to seniors, all with head problems, I.e., anxiety, anxiousness, irritable, stomach issues, weavers, cribbers. After vetting them thoroughly, we start doing a lot of groundwork to establish trust, it amazing to watch the transformation in every one of them, no matter their age! They also are free ranged and aloud to be herd animals again....

  • Thank you Kimberly. Feet moving has been the most helpful part of keeping my mare calmer. She was initially trained to race soI had to retrain her. This has been the most helpful way to get her retrained. I can happily say I can ride her and she doesn't bolt or spook. Again thank you