How to control your own level of tension

How to control your own level of tension when your horse spooks

If you have a horse that’s a little bit nervous or that’s prone to spooking, your anticipation to that spook is creating tension in your body. It’s a natural reaction, but it will definitely create tension and anticipation in your horse’s body as well.

So what can you do to prevent that?

You can try to create a simulation of the situation where you think of your horse spooking and then going through the steps of what you would do in that situation.

This is how you can do that. 

The next time you’re riding your horse in the arena, pretend there is a scary corner and ride your horse towards it.

When you arrive there, and even though your horse hasn’t spooked, just think: ‘My horse has spooked’ and start going through the steps of creating a relaxed posture and therefore a relaxed mindset.

Your body will then go into the action phase where you go through the motions of what you might do in that situation. In that way you’re taking positive action in knowing what it is you have to do.

When you’re doing this simulation, you’re preparing yourself and creating in your mind the knowledge of what action you need to take in that moment.

It’s like a fake fire alarm. Everybody does a drill and when they hear the alarm, they know that they have to go outside the building towards the meeting place.

Now you can feel what it’s like to gain control of the situation. So unconsciously you start to feel confident that you know what you have to do the next time your horse spooks.

Secondly, you have to tell yourself that you’re not going into this action plan unless there really is a fire.

I understand you want to be prepared, but don’t enter the building and practice the drill every time. Just wait until there actually is a moment where it requires you to take action.

Therefore you’re not preempting the expectation that the horse is going to spook. You have an action plan and now you’re just going to focus on your riding and what you’re doing.

That’s relieving that tension in you and giving you purpose and knowledge of knowing what you need to do when there actually is an emergency.

It takes away that anticipation of trying to prevent it. Because when you know what to do, you no longer have to prevent it.

Do you have problems with tension during shows and competitions?

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Finding the solution when pressure is building up

Finding the solution when pressure is building up

It can be quite challenging at times!

Last year, I was at a practice show where I was helping someone at the warmin-up.

That’s when I noticed a pony flying from one end of the arena to the other. 

I could feel the fear in the pony and the desperation of the young rider, not having the tools and the solutions to get out of the situation.

So we’ve invited Jilles and his pony Gentleman for TRT Live last year as our casestudy.

Together with Jilles and his pony, I went through the first groundwork patterns. 

In the video below you can see the whole session, how Gentleman changes from a tense pony to a more relaxed and confident pony.


I hope you enjoyed this training session and that it has given you inspiration!

50% NEW YEAR discount will end in...


Get access with 50% off!

Every horse can be confident and relaxed in every situation. It’s all about giving your horse the right tools.

Get a huge discount and Lifetime Access to the entire TRT Method training package.

Saddling without tension

Case study

How to saddle your horse without tension?

Bonny brought me her gelding Kanshebber, a sweet horse that wants to please but gets stuck in his own insecurities, especially during and after saddling. Bonny describes the problem here:

Letting go of tension is a physical feeling.

Part of the progress is encouraging the horse to move, meaning that you have to take the horse out of the restrictive environment of cross ties.
This horse specifically had a tendency to shrink back whenever he felt insecure, drawing into himself. So with the saddling, I wanted to encourage him to move forward and to open up his front legs, opening up his body in the process.

Don't focus too much on getting things done.

Another takeaway from this lesson is that sometimes we’re too focused on getting things done. 

This is often done with the best intentions, but it’s not helping your horse. When you’re too busy trying to do the right thing, you’re actually drawing attention to the thing your horse finds the hardest, like how Bonny focused on girthing correctly but instead making it worse for her horse.
As soon as Bonny was distracted from the saddling itself, her horse relaxed because he felt less drawn to the points of pressure and tension

Connect the dots for your horse.

Once the saddle is on, we want to work on replicating the things we’ve been practicing without saddle.
When doing the girth up, you want to draw your horse’s attention towards himself. Let him become aware of the fact that he can relax his own body.
To help the horse with the tension in his front leg, we want him to think of the patterns again. You want your horse to move towards the pressure, the opposite side of where you’ve done the girth up.
With the patterns, we’re encouraging the horse to move forward, to open up his front legs and find his balance through movement.

Finding relaxation after trauma

WEG Clinic Tristan Tucker

Finding relaxation after trauma

I met this beautiful young mare at the WEG in Herning. She recently had a traumatic experience at a competition where a pot plant blew into her face. In this clinic, I showed her how to find relaxation again. 

What do you do when a snake comes at you?

You move away, perhaps might even run. It’s natural to creep away from scary things and we often do not think about it.

The same goes for horses. 

But they can’t tell what’s exactly life-threatening or not. 

To be in control of all scary situations, you first must be in control of yourself. 

Letting go of tension is a physical feeling.

Tension is often something we carry around without being too aware of it, until someone draws your attention to it.

The same goes for horses. Just showing your horses that they’re holding tension in their skin, will actively make them want to relax. And feeling relaxed is better than feeling tense.

Finding a way of moving that causes relaxation.

The root of this training is not teaching the horses to never react, we can all be surprised by a sudden noise. It’s about what happens afterwards, how the horse feels in their body and mind.

Teaching your horse to move in a way that feels confident and relaxing means you’re teaching your horse how to control themselves, even in moments of tension. 


Encourage your horse to be the chaser.

By teaching your horse to approach the scary object, you’re guiding him into the “yes-posture”. It’s a posture that will give your horse the feeling of being in control.

Ready to learn more and get started?

Get my Reduce Tension course with 50% off and learn how you can follow all those steps with your own horse.

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horse spooking at scary corner

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We’ve all had a horse not wanting to go near a scary corner, the door or the sun spots on the ground. Here’s a step by step how I handle these situations!


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