Here are some lessons I was taught on why a buddy system helps to train and manage a horse in a healthy and fun way!
What is a Horse Buddy System?
A horse buddy system is when two or more horses work together to encourage and help each other. Learning becomes more fun, effective, and rewarding for your horse. This type of positive learning is what is called a horse buddy system!
Why do Horse Buddy Systems Work?
Much like us, horses are social beings and enjoy working with others.
Horses are by nature herd animals. Meaning they work better in groups! Horse buddy systems are much like a classroom where it is often helpful, and encouraging to be around others. Whether you are tacking your horse up, or enjoying a trail ride – your horse would love to have a friend come along!
A horse enjoys seeing their buddy ‘do it first,’ or have their buddy ‘follow’ their lead. I’ll tell you a couple instances that this was taught to me by my trainer/mentor, and his horses!
That Horse Taught Me the Secret to a Better Ride!
One snowy afternoon, I walked across the paddock and greeted the herd. I gently threw a halter on the horse I was working with that day. I led him into the barn and began spoiling him! Grooming him, massaging him and then tacking him up.
I then led him outside the barn and swiftly hopped on the saddle.
As we walked on, we approached a rather sizeable hill… and he gave me grief. He let me know he wasn’t in the mood.
None the less, we kept it moving.
A couple days later we did a similar exercise. However, this time my trainer joined us on another horse.
I had already begun to imagine the trouble he would give me walking up to that same hill. Well, to my surprise his behaviour was completely different! He began to trot uphill! Both riders and horses had a beautiful experience.
After this experience I learned one of the secrets to a better ride could be bringing a friend along! Therefore, the buddy system can also be used as a reward. Believe me, your horse will thank you for it!
With that being said, it is important to remember, every horse is different.
This means every horse requires different training. There are times in training when it is necessary to be alone with your horse.
For example, when backing a horse for the first time it is best there are no distractions. The horse needs to focus. Most importantly, on you! It also has to focus on its equipment, and finding the right footing.
Which brings me to my next point. If your horse’s equipment isn’t fitting right you have to focus on fixing the problem quickly. Otherwise, it could lead to sores, hair loss, or injury.
This is nerve-wracking if another rider is waiting on you. It can also become dangerous if your horse decides to bolt. Which can happen out of excitement of being joined by a buddy. Incase this unfolds, we recommend our read on how to stop a bolting horse!
Remember, before you introduce your horse to the buddy system, you need to be 100% comfortable as a rider.
Now you might be thinking, how do I know if I’m 100% comfortable? You should feel completely in control of your horse, and at ease. If you are calm and collected, your horse will feel safe and trust the process.
Now you are ready to incorporate a horse buddy system into training!
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t get to it right away! Understandably, it isn’t always likely another rider is able to join you. This might mean planning a grazing date in advance!
What are your thought on horse buddy systems?
I’ve really enjoyed writing this piece and I hope you’ve taken away some good information! I would love to know what your related experiences are. Please feel free to drop a comment below, I can’t wait to hear from you!
Hope I trot into you,
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