Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Your Horse Needs Physical Contact

When training we should never cause the simple to become unnecessarily complicated. One of the most important ways to build trust with the horse is to practice forms of affection that the horse understands. The most important is close contact with sufficient strength so that it does not tickle the horse or seem like a signal to move off.

There are three key points to keep in mind: use the palm or a closed hand more than finger tips, keep one's body very close to the horse, preferably touching the horse, and rub firmly but do not pet as you might with a dog.

By allowing your body to completely relax you signal to the horse that he is safe and can completely relax. But too much emphasis on technique can lead to a failure to understand purpose.

The purpose of the contact is not to simulate affection, but to generate affection. In this world the only thing that cannot be faked is sincerity. There is no doubt that the horse will come to feel closer to the person that uses affectionate handling in a manner that the horse can understand. The other side is equally important. The person that allows himself to relax and gently handle the horse will develop sincere affection for the horse. The more one cares for the horse the more time one will spend with him. The more time one spends with him the closer the bond will be between the two.

The closer the bond---period. That's right the, developing the closest bond possible is the goal in itself. Everything else that gets between a horse and a person hampers that goal. Other goals--winning a race, bringing home a blue ribbon, earning the admiration (jealousy) of other horse owners are all hindrances to the only goal that matters for the horse.

Affection is something that the horse is entitled to. It is not something that he earns.

1 comment:

George W said...

Scoundrel days does this for himself, his favorite thing besides food, is parking himself with his shoulder touching my hip. This can be a pain...but I can live with it. Horse wants to be with the most valuable thing you can have with him...Snow hears my voice and comes looking for me.

Which brings to mind an issue that I have with certain big name trainers and hordes of their followers...personal space. It is ok to require a horse to respect your not let him shove you around without that little display of dominance going the other direction...and right now. However dot is extremely unwise to pu ish the horse for attempting to get close to you...driving him back ten or twelve feet and holding him there without a firm and fair be followed by immediate release is unfair to the horse. Stop treating him like a dog...he is not a dog, he is a herd animal, and by holding him way out and punishing him for trying to get to his herd is simply cruel and counterproductive, the idea is to be his herd leader...not to be the stallion driving him out to the bachelor bands..
Personal space...for a calm horse...really should be a foot or so...where he can extend his nose and touch you..but not push you.
My space is much smaller...I want him in here....but respectfully.