Play provides us with an excellent opportunity to fully engage with our horses on many levels: cognitively, physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually. It teaches horses and humans about sharing a learning experience. In horsemanship play is a wonderful tool in development of a shared language as it opens up two way communication. It builds self-esteem and self-confidence in both equine and human participants which enriches a shared supportive relationship. Play is wonderful for building mutual respect, trust and bonding.
Play comes in many forms, so what one horse likes as a type of play another may not be interested. So discovering what you and your horse enjoy in play opens up a world of fun and joy. Play is so important to optimal equine development. It helps horses to adjust to schooling as it enhances learning readiness and learning behaviours. Through play horses develop emotional maturity and the ability to concentrate. Exploration is the heart of play and it is the ignition to curiosity and problem-solving skills.
Play allows horses to explore the world and is fabulous for conquering their fears. Using play you can help your horse think, to look to you for guidance rather than react. Play is great for spook busting and bomb proofing your horse. Horse and human together through play around facing fears, develop new competencies, enhanced confidence and a resiliency in facing future challenges.