herding cattle COWGIRL magazine
Two horses herding a group of cattle. Photo by Bailey Alexander.……

A focused horse is one that is obedient. They’re listening to their rider’s aids and ready to perform. You could say they’re calm and collected. It doesn’t matter what discipline you ride, you want your horse focused on you. Many horses never reach their full potential because they’re too anxious or stressed. These horses are more worried about what’s going to “get them”, then what their rider is requesting.

Luckily, there are things you can do to improve your horse’s focus!

Get a Focused Horse

First, set your horse up for success by allowing them to have plenty of turnout time. They need to be a horse and burn off excess energy.

A horse trotting in the field. Photo by Julissa Helmuth.

You also need to be attentive to their diet. Work with a nutritionist to formulate an ideal diet. Some horses become hot and anxious from the starch and sugar found in commercial grains. Excess calories from the grain could also be a problem. They may do best on a forage-based plan.

There are supplements, such as Total Calm & Focus, that can support a more attentive horse. This particular one decreases cortisol levels. It offers magnesium, vitamin B1, and other B vitamins.

When you begin your rides, allow your horse 10-15 minutes to warm up. This gives them the opportunity to prepare for the ride. You can start asking for concentration, during this time. You can walk and trot on a long rein.

During your sessions, have a goal in mind and specific exercises to work on. You should offer plenty of rewards and breaks. Your releases should be properly timed, as well. You may have to bump your horse with your heel, if they momentarily lose focus.

A rider on a relaxed horse. Photo by Rebecca Scholz.

It’s important that you don’t drill exercises. Your sessions should be kept short in the beginning, though can be extended as your horse’s attention span grows.

Keep your expectations realistic and in time you’ll have a more focused horse!