Get the balance right

“Spending more time with your horse will help your relationship. Take him with you when you are poo-picking, cleaning tack or just having a cup of tea."

“Twenty-three hours a day 'free range' versus one hour 'working' isn't an even balance!”

Stamp out separation anxiety
“Almost all of the horses I see who nap become anxious and distressed when left in the stable alone.

“Stable him for increasingly longer periods of time until he is happy to be left on his own, then repeat the process with him tied up. This will create a greater tolerance to life and give him confidence in his ability to look after himself.”

Keep to the plan
“Before you set off for a hack, make a detailed plan of the ride you want to do – which route you are going to take, and when you are going to walk, trot, and canter. Follow your plan to the letter.

“Horses are masters of changing your focus and are able to detect any indecision. So if you get to the end of your drive and haven't made up your mind whether you are going to turn left or right, your horse can use your lack of decision as an opportunity to start napping.”

Familiarity breeds contentment
“Once you have completed your planned ride, repeat it for five days in a row. This will help your horse feel good about himself, as by day five he will know the plan! On day six, start a new one.

“Offer him a handful of feed in a bucket once you have finished your ride well – but if he is naughty, don't reward him.”

Keep it short and sweet
“Make sure your hacks are less than 45 minutes initially. Never think of doing a long ride as a way of sorting out a nappy horse. He will simply get stiff and sore, and his negative feelings about hacking will be reinforced.

“If he naps in the arena, keep your schooling on the bridle to no more than three minutes at a time. Then drop the contact and work on a loose rein, praising him regularly.

“Repeat this for the entire session, using a timer, and keep sessions to a maximum of 20 minutes. Your horse will then not dread the hard work of schooling, and will learn to look forward to the regular release of pressure.

“When you finish, stand quietly in the manege and offer him a handful of grass or a treat before leaving.”

THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED IN HORSE MAGAZINE'S JANUARY ISSUE