Photo by Barbara D. Livingston
Walking Your Horse Back to the Barn
Now that you are walking back to the barn, you have to think about where you are going, and how you are going to get there. If you are not sure, ask someone.
During the walk home on the horse path, allow your horse to drop its head, stretch its neck downward and poke its nose outward toward the ground. This allows your horse to swing its neck and back side-to-side and stride out in an elongated, relaxed manner, stretching its muscles. It also frees up the horse’s mind after its maximum effort during the gallop or breeze.
To allow your horse the freedom to relax in this fashion, you must trust your horse enough to lengthen your reins considerably. Let the reins slide through your hands, so the horse does not feel constrained in the mouth as it is walking back. Keep a slight, gentle contact with the horse’s mouth, so the horse knows where you are and vice versa.
Walking in this way does wonders for the Thoroughbred race horse’s overall confidence and trust in its exercise rider and itself; however, do not endanger yourself or the horse when asking the horse to relax. If you feel the horse is not going to settle, or trust you enough, keep a light contact with the horse’s mouth to support the horse and give it confidence.
Excerpt from How to Exercise a Thoroughbred Race Horse
by Janice L. Blake