It's always easier to ride a horse when both you and the animal trust each other. You can ride a horse that is uneasy around you, but it's much easier when you are both comfortable and steady around the other. However, especially if your horse has been abused in its past, it can be difficult to get your horse to trust you. With time and patience, however, a beautiful relationship can be built.
If your horse has never been mistreated but is skittish by virtue, it will also make it harder for the horse to have faith in you. All it takes is some time together. You will reconsider how you approach him. Make sure you move slowly and approach the horse from the left. When approaching a horse with things in your hand, do put your hands in front of you to let him ascertain that there is nothing threatening with what you are holding. Do not wear baggy outfits when you are moving close to a skittish horse.
The wind could pick up your shirt or pants and cause a sudden clothing flapping noise that will spook him. Once they associate you with any kind of fear, it will take much longer for the horse to trust you at all. The horse should never shy away from its owner over anything. No one should push a horse to do something before he is totally confident.
You will want your horse to trust and depend upon you completely before you ask him to jump or go down an unfamiliar terrain. You can instead have him build up his confidence by letting him jump over smaller hurdles and travel down simple, wide and open paths. If he jumps and stumbles, he might have trouble trusting you to jump again and you might second guess his decisions while jumping. So long as you know that each of you can trust the other, you will have a safe and successful ride. You find that there are greater challenges when trying to gain the confidence of a horse that has been mistreated before. You shouldn't give up hope, however.
Plenty of horses have come back around after hours and hours of patience and love. One good method to get close to a horse that has been mistreated is to spend time just chatting and being in his presence. Talk with a soft, calming voice and occasionally bring them a treat. Don't try to ride him and definitely don't ask him to do anything he doesn't want to do. It could take days before he is afraid at the very sight of you.
You can try to move closer to him if he is not bothered by your presence. A frightened horse is a very dangerous animal, so be sure that you do not corner him. Offer him a treat and try to stroke his muzzle. If he eats the treat from your hands, you are making great strides! If you can touch your horse and he lets you pat him, you are nearly there. You still cannot get on the back of a horse that has been badly abused without a professional trainer nearby who has years of experience with abused horses.
You do not wish to be in the situation whereby you are on the back of a horse that only trusts you when you are on the ground, but not when you are on its back.
Moses Wright is the webmaster of PetQuery. He provides horse riding supplies info and basic horse care tips and guide on his web site.