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National Hug Day

National ‘give your horse’ a hug day!

I hug my horses all the time.

Selfishly because it makes me feel good, but also its my way of showing kindness and affection to them.

But it got me thinking…..Are we kind enough to our horses?

I don’t mean; do they have enough hay, should I feed a balancer or supplements, have they had enough turnout or do they have too many rugs on today?

I mean are we emotionally kind enough to our horses? Do we treat them with respect? Do we mentally connect with them and understand why they do something before we react with either a correction or frustration?

We all love our horses and our sport, but many of us are in it for our own personal goals, improving the way we ride, train and compete. And with competition, comes pressure to perform. Which can create frustration if things don’t go our way. But we have to remember that ‘we’, the rider…. and the horse make mistakes. So why is a huge amount of the blame and frustration pointed at the horse?

Albert Vorn expressed his strong views on this at a recent training session in Samorin. He was surprised and concerned at how angry and frustrated some young riders were getting with their horses. And he questions, ‘Do you like what you do? Is your horse your partner?’.

Which got me thinking about partnerships and how kind we are to our horses?

One thing came to mind… the term ‘a dirty stop’. Do we really think there is ever an occasion when a horse stops at a fence, to be dirty? To make you eat sand?

Now don’t get me wrong I’ve used this term before and I’ve used it about my own delightful mare, Miss Florence. But actually, I don’t believe that she ever does anything ‘dirty’. She is influenced by not only the training that I have given her, (or not, if she’s stopping!) but also the connection between us. The confidence she has, and the confidence I give to her.

To conclude, if she stops at a fence, it’s usually for one of two reasons…I didn’t give her the training or confidence she required to take the stride and ultimately the fence, or she didn’t believe she could take the fence, i.e. lacked confidence in her own ability. So, what right do I have to blame her and get angry at her?

We have to remember, we use horses for our own pleasure. We have chosen to train them to do what we want to do. And thankfully they are respectful enough to oblige – or we wouldn’t have our sport. But are we equally respectful back. And do we treat them with kindness they deserve?

It's scientifically proven that us humans benefit from hugs. It’s a stress reliever, good for blood pressure and alleviates fear, so why would that be any different to our horsey partners?

I’m quite an emotional sap and one little ritual I have just before I go into the starting box with Miss Florence….is I give her a big hug and I say ‘Let’s look after each other’. And so far, we have….

So, go on be kind to your horse…and show it by giving your horse a hug! Not only today…but every day!

Link to Albert Vorn interview in Samorin (

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