Engaging with your horse is an important and proactive part of horsemanship.
I have found many times that engaging with horses doesn't mean work. Even when we're practicing and developing through physical exercise, our time together should be mutually enriching. Whatever we do should have a component for the horse.
Relationship building with a horse involves more than simply training or riding. In fact, in my own practice, I engage with horses on their terms: in their pasture. Playing games they enjoy. Demonstrating that I can be a part of their herd as much as I want them to be a part of mine.
Putting time into those extra-curricular activites may not seem productive, but it is. When we're playing, we're learning about each other. We're developing a relationship. We build trust. We discover we can laugh together and enjoy each other's company outside of what can sometimes seem like a rigid set of training parameters.
And the relationship we build through play builds a connection that we take into riding.
Let's check out some things we can do to take our relationship to the next level!