About Float Training

by | Nov 9, 2022 | Uncategorized

Your horse walks halfway into the float and then abruptly stops just before the hind feet get on the ramp? Travels result in a stressed, sweat bathed horse?

The utmost important task should not be just get the horse in somehow and close the ramp, which very well might create anxiety and tension when it comes to traveling for the rest of your horse’s life.

The float should not be mentally connected to stress and pressure, but feel as a safe and comfortable place.

This way you AND your horse can enjoy the trip, you will arrive at your destination fresh and happy, rather than feeling worn, stressed and tired – and the risk of injury will be much lower too.

Please consider that a float will be conceived by your horse as a confined space without ways to escape, hence basic training outside the float teaching the horse to stand still, relax and be confident in narrow passages, overcoming its natural flight instinct should be established

A good way to start this is by creating a passage way between e.g. a fence line and a row of barrels where the horse is lead through (leader standing outside the passage) – first with a wide space, then by narrowing the passage, and where the horse is taught to go through slowly, step by step and later on to stop right in the middle and stay there (e.g. whilst being brushed for a while).

Horses arriving at the destination being all tense, tight and dripping sweat or keenly walking on the ramp with their front feet only and then stopping, often is related to the horse lacking awareness for their whole body – they consciously place the front feet only, without being truly aware where their hind is. The hind kind of just ‘tags along’ with whatever the front does, or maybe because they know/remember having struggled with balancing themselves during travel in the float previously. Targeted exercises can help improve your horse’s awareness for the whole body, hence also increase the balance which is important for traveling in the float as well as for their performance and well-being. Below exercises focus on the muscular balance, enabling the horse to balance itself with comfort whilst the float is moving.

Here are some ways to help with creating muscular balance: Standing next to your horse, tap one of the legs to ask/encourage the horse to move this leg, only this one and just for one step. Be patient and praise/reward.

Do the same with all legs and with steps forward first, then backwards, then sideways.

This takes a little time to get right, but it will improve communication and trust between you and your horse, as well as the horse’s ability to consciously place a specific foot in a specific location.

Do the same with asking your horse to make just one step over a log, forward, standing with the log between the feet, backwards, move sideways with the front feet in front of the log and the back feet on the other side of the log.

With barrels, a portable yard or such, build a pathway that is narrow but open on both ends. Ask your horse to slowly step into the narrow area, step by step, and to stop and rest in the middle. When it does so comfortably, close the exit side and repeat the same exercise.

After standing in there, ask the horse to slowly back out, one step at a time. Be patient and reward. Get out and about, trail rides over altering terrain, uphill, downhill, soft ground, hard ground, uneven ground, all help your horse to use a wide variety of muscles, strengthen tendons and ligaments, improve balance. If you come across a bunch of tree branches on the ground, puddles, a steep part, walk over it instead of going around.

Using a theraband across the hind for exercises in hand or under saddle might make your horse more aware of its hind and hence naturally collect.

Studies have shown that these exercises have a stabilizing effect due to reducing the spinal rotation during movement. Have your horse walk over soft and giving ground like a mattress (no springs!) to prepare for the seesaw exercise.

Build a seesaw

Make it large enough to give room if the horse takes a little side step, and begin by underfilling the ends of the obstacle just so that the seesaw tilts a little bit, once your horse has understood and isn’t worried about the movement underneath, reduce, then take out the filling underneath so that the seesaw can really tilt as soon as the horse’s weight moves onto the other side.

These are just a few ideas that might help your horse to feel more confident traveling in the float. But of course it’s not just about that! These can also help you and your horse to connect better, build trust and certainly help your horse develop balance and self-confidence.

As always – be careful, move in small steps, don’t ask more than your horse is physically or mentally able to give, and last not least, do these things with friends and fellow riders, so you can help each other. Plus, it’s more fun to do it together.

www.SonoVettherapy.com.au – visit our Facebook page for more articles, tips & ideas



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