"A Dog looks up to a man, a cat looks down on a man, but a patient horse looks a man in the eye and sees him as an equal" - Anonymous.
Neigh! I love that sound. And I love horses. I love them because they define grace, power and respect to me. You could have got a horse and added a new member in your barn or you could have just got a companion for yourself or you probably have got the champion who is going to win you the race. No two horses are alike, like humans they react and behave differently in different situations. So, even if your barn is full of horses you will still need to take some effort to get know your new horse better. A horse is an absolute darling and a delight. He is that one animal with whom you can be friends and can fall in love too.
The whole idea is about being friends with your horse and letting him know what his role is. You have to teach him to accept the human dominance but still give him freedom and let him free. This requires a great skill and love for the fella. Owning a horse is not merely a symbol of royalty and passion but also a symbol of great responsibility and love for your equine friend. He is a friend you have invested money in, that's kinda political!
Take Your Horse to His Enclosure: Introduce him to this place and just let him be! Once you have got him to your barn or pasture, let him get accustomed to the surroundings. Stay around him when he is exploring his new residence and don't forget to feed him well. Let him know that you are going to be there for him.
Groom Him: Groom your horse slowly, especially in the initial stage. Horses are sensitive, they would understand your touch and your motive. Grooming as an activity will create a bonding between the both of you and help you connect.
Spend More Time with Him: The main step to get to know your horse better is by spending more time with him. He is like this new person you want to be friends with. The more time you will spend with him, the more you'll get to know him better.
Observe How He Socializes with Other Horses: A horse is a highly social animal, hence observe how he gels with his other mates. Understanding this behavioral type will help you understand what's going on in his mind when he behaves in an unusual manner. Also, it is believed that when a horse molds his behavior by adapting it from a trained horse he learns faster.
Be Gentle: Don't yell or try giving him commands immediately, give him some time. Let him get used to your style of teaching and training. A horseman should know neither fear, nor anger. ~ James Rarey
Communicate Well: Horses speak in a different language but you can totally understand it, and that would require time. Talk to your horse like you would want to. Give him a name and call him with that often. Even when you are trying to talk to him use repetitive phrases like calling out the name of the horse food that he eats, and familiarize him with terms like walk, ride and race. It is said that, horses can't talk in the human language but they can speak if you listen.
Take Time to Judge Him: Horses are really fast to respond to any stimuli. So take your time before to judge your horse and categorize him. The more you let them free you'll understand their traits better. Once you know how he'd react in different situations, you can keep your tricks ready and use some strategies to influence him.
Understand Your Horse & His Personality Type: Horses are divided into two type of personalities overachievers and sensitive. Over achievers are usually horses who try to anticipate their master's action and often react before even receiving the commands. These horses are highly independent and are often misunderstood by those who are new to horses. The art of controlling such horses lies in learning the act of dominating them. The other personality type is sensitive. Such horses are great followers of commands and allow to take charge easily. However, they are called sensitive because they can get upset for something as small as a loose shoe or a harsh command. You've gotta watch out, as they can get impulsive.
Get Training: If you are new to horses and lack experience in handling a horse you would feel the need to take up some training. There are 'Horse Management Training Courses', that would teach you about horses behavior, nutrition, breeding and identification of horses.
Learn About His Likes and Dislikes: It's important to know what your horse's likes and dislikes are. You will need to observe a lot and that comes back to spending more time with him. You can also experiment with him by riding him to different places and knowing what he enjoys the most and where he needs some training. Once you know what he likes the most you can reward him with that as a token of your appreciation. This will keep your horse motivated and emotionally attached too.
Take Him for Regular Rides and Strolls: Take him around for strolls so that he can familiarize himself with the habitat around. You also need to be prepared with how he is going to react to things around him. The best thing to do, at the initial stage would be to give him sometime. When you get him back to his barn, let him know that that's his home. Now, once you have moved to become an acquaintance, depending on his energy level take him for a long or a short ride and this will make him friends with you.
Horses Have an Excellent Memory: This is an important fact you must keep at the back of your mind when you are dealing with a new horse. Your barn or pasture is a new surrounding for the horse. He might feel at home in the first encounter and in some cases it could also take time. Be patient! Don't misbehave or mistreat him without understanding your horse's reaction to a particular thing or situation. Horses have an excellent memory, they don't forget easily. So what goes around will surely come around. So watch, how you treat him!
Beside, all the points I have mentioned above, loving your horse is the most important of all. He is no slave, and never forget that, he has the ability to survive in a battlefield. You love him and care for him and he will obey your commands. It is rightly said that the language of love is universal, your horse will surely understand if you love him or no. I would just like to add that only have a horse if you can love him. As, "Care, and not fine stables, makes a good horse."
Once you have known him well and you are aware of his strengths and weaknesses you may choose to send your horse for some training. Besides keeping the above points in mind, knowing, understanding and loving your horse will fetch you a life long companionship with your new horse. You will eventually reach a stage where you'll be able to name your horse's favorite thing, without a thought. You'll recognize his every snarl and neigh eventually and in turn he will quietly rub his head against yours to let you know that he loves you back.