This article is for people who have always admired horses and have always wanted to get involved with them, but because of their fear have never gotten up the courage to even go near a horse.
And it is perfectly normal and reasonable for people who have never had any contact with these beautiful animals to feel in awe of them when they look down at us with around 400 kilos in weight. Most of these people are fine with dogs, cats and other smaller animals but horses just seem too big and powerful for them to muster up the courage to approach them.
Well the first step, if you really want to get to know these lovely beings and who knows, one day even learn to ride them, is to get the help of an experienced person or even better experienced friend. Watch how this person approaches them, watch how they touch the horse and get them to show you how to do it as well.
Probably the most important part of getting over your fear of horses is just to be with them as much time as you can with no immediate intention of riding them. It is helpful also to stand and watch them in a field. Watch how a group of horses interact with each other and it's amazing but true that if you spend a lot of time with them, you will begin to think that they are not THAT big.
A horse is a noble animal, after all how many creatures in the animal kingdom do you know that will let a human domesticate them and get up on their backs. If you remember this it may help to calm some of your fears.
Having said this, there are some horses that can be nasty, but supposedly your experienced friend is not going to introduce you to these. Horses are just like humans in that they all have their different characters and as is the same as with humans, some can be dangerous, mad and even downright evil. Although it has to be said that most of these horrible traits have probably been caused by bad treatment from humans in the first place.
One has to approach horses gently and never make sudden movements. Everything nice and slow and gentle. A lot of horses are very particular about their heads and so these have to be approached very carefully. Rub him first in cicular movements on his neck and shoulders and then slowly work your way up to his cheeks and then, if he seems to remain calm with the situation, up to his face.
When you hand feed a horse carrots, apples or pears, for example, it is always best to chop them up into small pieces. These pieces can be placed on your 'very flat' hand from which the horse can eat them. The reason for keeping your hand as flat as can be, with no finger pointing upwards, is that you virtually eliminate the risk of accidentally being bitten while he eats. And the reason for small pieces of titbits is that you also eliminate any risk that the horse might choke on a whole carrot.
When you are leading a horse on a halter and he suddenly stops, for what ever reason, never turn around and pull at him as if you were in a tug of war. This is quite dangerous as the horse is much stronger than you and if he pulls back away from you violently he can end up either rearing up or falling over backwards and hurting himself. So if he stops, just take the end bit of your leading rope with your left hand, (while continuing to stay by his left side and holding the rope just under his halter with your right hand), and give him a tap with it on his stomach behind you - this nearly always does the trick.
Always be aware, when you are with a horse, of where his feet are and where yours are so that you don't risk getting trodden on. A horse will never do this intentionally, but if your feet are too near his front legs he wont be able to avoid doing so. (A good tip is to always wear sturdy boots when around horses so that if they do accidentally step on you, the damage and pain will be far less!)
With horses there is a wrong way and a right way of doing everything and if you learn the right way you should never have any problems. This concept also applies to riding them. If you get to the stage that you have gotten over a lot of your fear and feel ready to get up onto one, you should always have some lessons from a really experienced person or instructor. By doing this you will be shown the right way of controlling a horse, which is very important, because if you give the right aids (signals) to a horse he will understand and cooperate with you.
A rider that doesn't do it right and starts to pull and tug at the horses mouth and give him confusing signals, will result in the horse getting frustrated, nervous and finally disobedient, all because the rider is confusing him and hence the horse loses confidence in this rider.
Always try to view any relationship that you have with a horse as a partnership
rather than one of human dominance over animal. You will find that you get a lot more out of a horse when adopting this attitude.
A horse is to be ridden, of course, and can be used in various types of equine sports, by all means, but your horse will respond to you so much better if you also treat him fairly and give him treats every now and then. Treats can include turning him out in a field so that he can kick his legs up in the air, taking him on the halter to graze on a nice patch of grass, giving him a good grooming session and generally just spending quality time with him. In this way he will get to know you more and trust and like you more, which in turn will mean that when you are up on his back he is going to want to take care of you more as well!!!
If you have fear of horses but at the same time admire them, take some time to try and get over this fear, because at the end of the day you will be rewarded ten fold. Being with horses is so comforting. One forgets about all the other problems that one may have and it is a great medicinal therapy without any side effects!!!