Free Play With the Horse

Moving freely with the horse without a halter or rope in step, trot, or gallop, maybe even overcoming obstacles together or just playing ball, thereby forming a unit and communicating on a very fine level. As soon as you stop the game, your horse follows you – these or similar ideas are usually associated with “free play”. Unfortunately, however, free play with the horse cannot always be implemented that quickly. Usually, a slow approach and a lot of practice precede.

What Exactly is Meant by “Free Play”?

“Free play” means for humans and horses to spend a very special and intense time together. Because this form of “work” promotes the relationship and at the same time requires concessions on both sides. This includes that you allow your horse to be a horse. So it can also run, jump or turn away. It’s up to you to regain the horse’s attention without losing patience or forcing anything. It takes practice to let go and accept that you cannot control everything. But practice makes perfect, as is well known.

Start in small steps and check, for example, whether your horse accepts your individual distance or whether to walk backward or sideways.

For safety reasons alone, it is imperative that your horse observes your individual distance so that you are not injured if it suddenly buckles or storms off. If, on the other hand, it comes too close, you can kindly send it back a few steps. If it then keeps the desired distance, you are welcome to verbally praise or walk up to your horse and stroke it.

Create a Good Basis

Before you start your “free game”, you should first establish a few important basic rules. Above all, this includes ensuring the safety of both of you. In this way, injuries or other dangers can be minimized. Safe footwear and appropriate clothing are just as important. After all, the game can also become very dynamic. Unsuitable shoes or boots can pose a great risk of injury. You should be able to move around easily in your clothes. It is also important that you feel comfortable in it. If this is not the case, your horse will not be able to interact harmoniously due to your tense body language.

If you first work with a rope as preparation or in general to create a base, your horse should be equipped with a halter or rope halter and you with a longer rope. For you, that also means wearing gloves. If rods, pedestals, balls, or the like are used in your game, they should under no circumstances have sharp edges or small parts that can be swallowed or nibbled on. If your horse is allowed to nibble on it, the material should definitely be non-toxic.

You and your horse should be able to feel comfortable playing. This also means having enough space for movement and any equipment and the security that your horse cannot run away if it storms or leaps out. A securely fenced area or a round pen would be ideal. Sometimes, however, a fenced and quiet piece of the meadow is also a good option. The floor should not be slippery or uneven for your play units. Because especially in the “free game” your horse can jump or just run. The ground must be able to withstand this and still be able to offer your horse safety.

Last But Not Least – the Most Important Aspect in this Matter

Free play should be fun for people and horses alike. There should be no communication difficulties. One-sided and inappropriate fun is out of place here. For example, leading a horse over a seesaw because only a person thinks it’s great, but not the horse at all, can have a negative effect on the relationship of trust. Teaching the horse to climb even though there is no trusting relationship between humans and horses is just as negligent. So it is important to consider in advance what requirements your own horse and yourself bring with them. Perhaps your horse only unravels certain behavior patterns on the field. Your sensitivity and patience are then required to get your horse’s attention. If your horse is very stormy, it is necessary to slow down your horse so that it is alert. Every horse reacts differently and not every game is the same as the other. So approach the matter in a very relaxed and relaxed manner. Variety and the consideration of individual needs should be a matter of course. Of course, the regular positive confirmation from your horse should not be missing.

Body Language and Behavior – The Keys to Happiness

Horses communicate a lot through their body language and, in turn, read just as much in ours. It is therefore important to recognize the horse’s body language, to read it, and to be able to classify it correctly. You should always look at your horse as a whole. Because an orientation feature alone, such as the ears, is not enough to capture the mood of your horse. In addition, you have to use your own body language correctly in order to be able to send your horse the desired signals. Breathe evenly, move slowly and calmly with conscious body rotations and arm movements. The communication between your horse and you should be clear and precise. After all, horses are true masters in their body language. Recognizing these, even the finest actions, and correctly assessing behavior requires a lot of practice.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *