How to love your horse based on their personality. Plus, some special Valentine’s Day Tricks- teaching your horse to give a hug and kiss.
We all love our horses, but as horse owners, we need to understand their needs and not push our affection on them in ways they don’t need or want. That may sound harsh, but some horses are more affectionate than others. All horses, like people, are different and have their own unique personality. One may love affection and be all over you, while another horse is much more standoffish. Neither is good nor bad, but we may get along with one better than the other. In both instances, we need to set certain boundaries and expectations.
Take Care of Their Needs
No better way to love your horse than making sure they are healthy. Yearly exams, along with regular worming and farrier work, are vital to a horse’s soundness. Routine dental care should also not be overlooked. Oftentimes, inappropriate behavior can be blamed on miscommunication. The horse was acting up because they were trying to tell you they were in discomfort. So taking care of them will help avoid any issues that may come up in training.
Regular turn out time helps with horse anxiety as well. If your horse paws or paces the fence then they probably need more to keep them busy. You can add some slow feeders or distractions that will help. Check out my previous post on horse gifts for more ideas.
The In-Your-Pocket Horse
This is the horse that acts like a puppy dog when you are around and follows you everywhere. For this type of horse, be sure that you are ok with him in your space and that you’ve invited him in. It’s important that you can move him out of your space just as easily. Love on them often, they enjoy it! These horses are my favorite, but they can be pushy, so boundaries are important. Especially when giving treats. They want to search you for them, so being consistent in making sure you give them when you are ready is important when training with positive reinforcement.
The Standoffish Horse
This is the horse that prefers to go off and eat and cares less that a human just entered their pen. With this type of horse, be sure that you can walk up to them whenever you want and them be ok with that. Reward them often for wanting to hang out with you, either with a treat or scratching a favorite spot. It’s important not to force too much affection on them. If they don’t like their face touched, then find another spot, they do like. It’s all about listening to what they are communicating and respecting that. As long as they allow you to touch their face and ears when you need to, such as bridling and grooming, then I don’t push it. Also, if another horse is around, that wants your attention more, you may need to remove them out of the picture so you can actually give this horse the attention you want to give.
Bonus – Teach Your Horse to Hug and Kiss
Valentine’s Day is coming up, and I thought these might be fun ways to spend time with your horse. Have you ever taught your horse to do tricks? Well, it’s so easy and fun and it is a good way to spend time with your horse when the weather isn’t cooperating. I use treats to reward and I encourage you to as well, but you don’t have to. These tricks will be harder to teach otherwise. For a link to the treats I use, please follow this link. Also, I use clicker training, which means I make a click sound with my tongue at the moment the horse does what I ask them to do.
Before you begin, you will need to teach your horse target training, and all that means is that they know how to put their nose on something you point at. It is very simple to teach. You can start with one of your hands, you will make a fist with one hand and then point at it with your other hand. As soon as they touch it, make a click sound and reward them with a treat. You can use anything you want, but I choose to use my hand because it’s handy and I will use it again for the hug trick. Do this until they get the concept. Which doesn’t take long, usually one session.
Teaching the Kiss
For the kiss trick, you will use what you’ve just taught them in target training, but you will be targeting either your lips or cheek. Personally, I would start with the cheek as they might bump you a little hard on accident. Also, my horse tends to give wet kisses so I like the cheek. So, to begin point to your lips or cheek and as soon as they touch you with their nose click and reward. It doesn’t take long for them to learn this.
Eventually, you may try leaning forward and saying kiss when you point, then you may get to a point where you don’t have to point anymore. This trick should only take a day or two to learn. If it takes longer, that’s ok too.
Teaching the Hug
For the hug trick, I suggest using your hand again as a target, to guide their head around your body like they are hugging you. You will start out by standing at their neck and withers. Using your hand, try to guide their nose around your body. When they touch your hand, click and reward. Start small and you can add a cue word here as well, such as hug. They will eventually put it all together and it won’t take long for them to learn.
As you progress with the trick, you may not need your hand to guide them anymore. By the second session I could step up to him, give him a squeeze with my left arm, and say hug. He wrapped his head around me and gave me a squeeze. I let him know he did good. It was really fun trick to teach.
I hope you enjoyed this post and found some new and inspiring ways to show your horse you love them today while taking their personality into consideration. We own our horses, but we don’t control them. We can love them all differently and uniquely, just like they are. I find I don’t have to force the way I want to show my love, but figure out what it is they like best and work with that.
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So cute! Love this idea!
Thank you Sarah.
Love this. My husband has an “in your pocket horse” and I’ve been slowly becoming more confident to be with her but she’s still a little too close for my comfort with four littles. I forgot to close the gate last week when we were out playing in the field and she wanted to come up to each and nuzzle them. I’d love to teach her some as I get more confident with her. These are great ideas. Thanks!
It sounds like you have a sweet horse! Thanks for sharing.
Horses are such amazing animals. I loved reading about the different personalities and that is such a sweet idea to teach kisses and hugs! 🙂 Thank you for sharing!
Thank you Hollyn!