Lots of people have Miniature Horses just for the joy of having them around. If they’re not too difficult to handle for routine care such as hoof trimming, and you don’t have any plans to show or otherwise compete, then it can be easy to think training isn’t necessary.
But there are other benefits to spending some time working with your Miniature Horse, beyond trying to win a ribbon.
Miniature Horses like to have a job
I’ve been working with some horses who’ve had several years “time off” for a variety of reasons. As a result, they were pretty set in their slacker ways, and were kind of hard to catch and not that keen to go back to regular handling.
Until they did.
Now I have to squeeze my way into the pen as they’re all lining up saying “pick me, pick me!” While they’re all very different personalities, and each have different aspects of the training they enjoy – learning a new skill, showing off what they’re good at, or the opportunity to earn treats! – they’re all excited to go to work and very jealous of anyone who gets to go instead of them.
Getting to Know You
Learning how your horse reacts to new things, seeing what motivates them, what they enjoy and what worries them – some things you just don’t know until you spent time teaching your horse a new skill.
Building that relationship will make your time together so much more rewarding and help you understand how to get through to your horse in difficult situations – so if you need to treat a wound one day, or some other painful or frightening experience, you’ll know what is likely to reassure your horse. Your horse will have more confidence in you as well, the more time you’ve spend playing and learning together, and building a trusting partnership.
Learning To Learn
Teaching one small skill to your horse, will give them to tools to learn more and more complicated skills. Like building blocks, even the highest levels of training start with simple basics, and teaching the horse to learn.
Horses love to learn new skills, and I think Miniature Horses are particularly keen – once they learn how to learn new skills they are eager to not only show them off, but add to their repertoire.
Once your Miniature Horse has the tools to learn, there is nothing they can’t accomplish. The sky – and your imagination – is the limit!
Benefits for You Too
Even beyond the obvious advantages of the fresh air and exercise you’ll get by spending time working with your Miniature Horse, science is just now confirming the emotional benefits of spending time around horses.
Teaching a horse a new skill will be a fun challenge, one that will give you the chance to use your problem solving, patience and empathy. You’ll be learning right along with them, and it might mean some research on your part. If you want inspiration about what skill to teach your horse, some googling or youtube surfing should give you some good idea, and even some tutorials.
It can be overwhelming if you think of starting with a big, complicated skill like training your Miniature Horse to drive. Instead, pick something small to start with. Teach your horse to walk over poles, or to nod their head on command, or trot in hand. Baby steps and small skills will build to bigger ones!
And even those big skills are just a bunch of smaller ones taught gradually, one at a time. Start small, but just start!
So set yourself a goal! What are you going to teach your Miniature Horse this summer?