It is possible to ride a horse that is uneasy around you, but it is much more enjoyable to ride a horse that trusts you completely. However, getting your horse to trust you is not always easy, especially if he has been abused in the past.
If you have a horse that is a bit shy and uneasy around you, but hasn’t been abused, it may take a bit of time to get him to trust you, but it is certainly not impossible. First, think about how you approach him. Make sure you don’t make sudden movements and be sure that you always approach your horse from the left. Show him anything in your hands, even if it is only a hoof pick, before you try to use it on him.
Next, avoid wearing loose clothing, since a breeze could make the clothing flap suddenly and spook your horse. Once he associates you with being afraid, you will really have to work hard to regain his trust. It is no fun for either the owner or the horse when the horse shies away at the sight of his owner.
Of course, it goes without saying that no one should push a shy horse to do something when he lacks confidence. Your horse needs to depend on you completely when you ask him to take a jump or to go down an unfamiliar path. If you push him to take a jump and he stumbles, he will be afraid to depend on you and may hesitate when you ask him to jump the next time. Instead, build up his confidence by having him jump over simple jumps or taking rides on wide, easy to travel paths. Once he knows he can trust you, be sure you don’t let him down by asking him to do something that is beyond his abilities.
If you are dealing with a horse that has been abused, gaining his trust can be almost impossible. However, if you are willing to be extremely patient, you may finally succeed in getting him to trust you.
Before you try to do anything else, just sit and talk to your horse in a calm, soft voice. Don’t try to force your attention on him and definitely don’t try to ride him. You may need to talk to him for quite a few days until he stops being afraid. Once he doesn’t seem to mind you sitting there and talking, it is time to try to approach him. Remember, a frightened horse can be extremely dangerous, so never try to corner him. Instead, offer him something he really enjoys. After he finally eats the treat from your hand a few times, try to stroke his muzzle.
Once your horse lets you pat him, you have reached a turning point. However, never try to ride a horse that has been badly abused without the help of a horse trainer who has experience with abused horses. Your horse may trust you completely when you are on the ground and still panic when you are riding him.