MICHEL ROBERT'S TIPS

Trading Places

Horses never know what awaits them. Whenever they change yard they always leave behind a friend, be it a horse or a human being. They suffer separation and unexpected things also happen to them in everyday life. Try and imagine being in the quiet of your home when suddenly someone appears to fetch you, takes you outside and grooms you, squeezing your ribcage, sits brutally on your back, turns your neck left and right and works on your hips bashing them with spurs…

Compared to a few years ago, things have fortunately changed. However, too many riders today still think that horses should be compliant from the moment they come out of their stable…

Too many horses are treated like slaves! Yet, just like each of us, each of them has its own history, needs, emotions and requirements. Some need to play, others need strictness, to be rewarded or even to… be distracted. We must always strive to understand what they might be lacking. It is our duty, considering what we consistently demand from them and what they give us in return. Playing, for example, is not forbidden.

Personally, when I start to ride, be it at home or in the collecting ring, I like to let the horse distract itself with its nose up in the air, grazing for a bit, sniffing around, rubbing its face on its hoof or even giving a few bucks.

This is crucial for getting rid of any stiffness built-up in the stable as well as for its mind.

Horses too need freedom and distraction. We should always remember that!