Debbie McDonald: Build Trust As You Train, PLUS Senior Horse Health

This Olympic dressage rider explains how to build trust for your horse’s mind and balance for his body. BONUS: Understand the most common issues facing senior equines.

Trust is the basis of the most successful work trainers and riders do, says U.S. Dressage Team Technical Advisor and Chef d’Equipe Debbie McDonald. Throughout a horse’s training, he must never be put in a position where he feels threatened or vulnerable. When McDonald first starts training a horse, she slowly builds their communication skills on the ground and under saddle until the horse yields quietly to light pressure and understands turning, walking, stopping and backing. The whole point is to get away from being rough by taking this initial time for building trust, she says.

In this article, McDonald discusses ways to build trust with your horse, including:

• developing his balance—when your horse is balanced, he can be relaxed. And when your horse is balanced in his body, he’ll become more relaxed in his mind.

• being mindful that your goals don’t become your enemy by forgetting to listen to what your horse is saying

• focusing on your body language to develop light aids.

BONUS IN THIS ISSUE: Help your horse age gracefully by understanding the most common issues facing senior equines from his head to his hoof. Topics include teeth, dental; eyes; endocrine system; back, spine; digestive system, nutrition, weight; joints; feet, hooves and exercise tolerance.

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