Before starting any exercise, take the time to connect and listen to your horse with your hands. You can easily do this by mindfully running your hands all over your horse’s body. This simple Body Exploration exercise will provide you with valuable information regarding your horse’s state of body and mind as well as his level of trust in you as a handler. A horse that is very comfortable being touched all over his body will be better prepared for any experience under saddle than one that is defensive, ticklish, or tense.
Having a horse that is truly happy and comfortable about being touched is incredibly important. Not only does this signify relaxation and physical well-being, it also tells you a lot about how much he trusts you. This is also very significant for horses that are already trained but may be having specific issues under saddle. Going back to the basics and helping your horse become comfortable about being touched everywhere will often help seemingly unrelated training issues. For instance, if your horse has a tight, clamped tail, you will often find that this same horse may be nervous about noises or movement behind him.
Renowned clinician Linda Tellington-Jones presents a thoughtful recipe for starting the young horse without stress, helping to establish the very best beginning, in hand and under saddle, and curates her own experience working with older horses ready for a second chance at life.