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Nurturing the natural curiosity of your horse

Nurturing the natural curiosity of your horse

Horses are naturally curious.  They are curious as a foal, when they start to discover the new world where they are born in, and this continues for the rest of their lives.  That is, if their trainers and handlers are aware of this natural curiosity and nurture that curiosity instead of killing it.

But, what is a curious mind?

Being curious is wanting to discover, to experience, to learn new things. It’s being interested in something, wanting to know an answer on a question or learn more about a certain situation.

Curiosity creates confidence

That’s why curiosity creates confidence: if a horse learns and experiences new things, he will gain more confidence in himself and in life in general.

However, this natural curiosity can be suppressed by the way you handle and train your horse, and this can lead to stress and frustration, but also a horse that is unconfident or uninterested and unmotivated.  It can even make a horse feel depressed.

So you understand, that if you want your horse to like and enjoy your training and you want your horse to be happy , then it’s important to nurture his natural curiosity.

Nurturing the natural curiosity

How can you nurture the natural curiosity of your horse in daily life and while training your horse? Here are some tips:

  1. Allow your horse to make own decisions
  2. Give your horse options to choose from
  3. Allow your horse to ask questions
  4. Let your horse sniff, touch and even bite things
  5. Play games with your horse like the “Carrot Game” and the “Mirror Game”
  6. Let your horse come to you and check you out during Bonding Time and allow your horse to be curious about you (sniffing, touching, licking you)
  7. Do connection exercise 2 “Greet and Groom
  8. Offer your horse a lot of variation in training
  9. Present new situations, obstacles, challenges to your horse (e.g. in Groundwork)
  10. Give your horse time to think (and then come up with an answer) when you ask something
  11. Praise your horse for his willingness to try new things
  12. Regularly place unknown objects in your horse’s field/paddock to check out and learn from (new shapes, colours, smells,…)
  13. Allow your horse to explore what he wants to explore, even if that is something you didn’t have in mind at that moment
  14. Be inventive and playful when it comes to training your horse: what will trigger curiosity in your horse?
  15. And last but not least: be curious yourself!

Here’s a short video (exerpt from a video of the Horsefulness Groundwork Program) with an example about letting the horse make his own decisions.  Just to show you how simple it can be 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Nurturing the natural curiosity of your horse


By Johannes on 5 July 2019

Paard is mijn lievelingsdier. Gisteren hadden we een fietstocht gehad langs binnenwegen. Daar hebben we ook wat paarden gezien in de weide en was tevreden. Paard rijden en onderhouden is nogal duur. Vorig jaar heb ik door de zaak Spaarselect – Kempar 300 00 Euro verloren en alle waardepapieren moeten verkopen en zit ik in armoede nu. Moet ook nog wat betalen in schijven het KI die altijd stijgt. Lieve groetjes


By Lee-Ann on 7 July 2019

Karine, can you please tell me more about the games you mentioned? And what types of objects can we put in Deejay’s camp to stimulate his curiosity?

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