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3 effective exercises for the anxious horse

Line Hummel
Line Hummel is on her way with her horses. Photo: Kamila Tworkowska

Do you have a nervous horse? It may be a sign of insecurity and a lack of confidence, which can actually be changed. Read on to learn about the three best exercises from trainer and behaviorist Line Hummel that can help boost your horse’s confidence.

About the author Line Hummel

Line Hummel is the founder and owner of the company Hestekræfter.

She visits riders and their horses to help solve behavioral problems, develop training programs, and provide lessons. Line’s authentic and professional approach to both horse and rider is unique and is based on the exclusive APPEAL method.

If you want more information about lessons and training, you can contact Line via email at, through Messenger, or by visiting her website.

Why is a horse’s confidence important?

A confident horse already has experience in completing tasks with a positive outcome. Therefore, it will approach unfamiliar situations with curiosity and calmness. This typically makes for a very safe horse to handle and take out. The horse trusts you as a rider and has good experiences of being listened to and having a voice in your collaboration. You can introduce a confident horse to a lot without it becoming dangerous because it is good at maintaining composure and calm.

How does a horse express insecurity?

Your horse can express insecurity in many ways, but you know you have an insecure horse when it refuses to do many things, hesitates, or freezes. I often look at the horse’s feet and legs because an insecure horse may fidget or almost "tiptoe." It often has triangular and wide eyes whenever it encounters something unfamiliar. If you need to step over something new, an insecure horse rarely crosses without another horse or rider going first.

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You best understand an insecure horse when you have met and felt a confident horse.

1. Hang out in the pasture with your horse and pay attention to its eyes, ears, muzzle, and the pace when it relaxes.

All this information is useful for reading your horse in other situations where you make demands on it. This way, you can determine when the horse can’t handle more and when you can take a step further in your training.


It also gives you a personal break, bringing your brain down to alpha rhythms. This is beneficial for both you and your body.

2. Take long walks with your horse, like with a dog, and let your steps be long, heavy, and soft. Hold the rope loosely. Let the horse walk further ahead of you, positioning yourself behind its seat. From here, you can still choose the path.

When the horse walks ahead of you, where you walk right behind its foreleg or just behind the saddle area, you find out if the horse is confident enough to step over places where the surface changes without you going first. When walking beside your horse, you can better see the stride length, pace, and backswing, giving you both good training.

3. Praise your horse for what you like and avoid correcting what you don't like. Many insecure horses are greatly affected by corrections but are eager to do what they sense brings calm and joy.

There are many advantages to not correcting but rather praising instead. You become much clearer about what you actually want, and your mindset about your horse becomes much more positive. This applies in many other contexts as well.

These exercises can help boost your horse’s confidence and make you even stronger as a team.

You may also like to read: Jesse Drent: “I can’t deal with horses leaving”


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