Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Communicating Confidence: Handling the Terrified Wild Horse For The First Time

This wild BLM mustang arrived at the horse lot around nine am and here he is taking a saddle about eight hours later. He has been with us for five days and loves to be handled and brushed and has had his first rider set on the saddle.

Many people would think it better to "let him get used to his surroundings" and ignore him for a significant period of time before handling him. With some horses one must do that because they are simply too dangerous to handle. But that should not be the general practice.

He arrived terrified. If I had left him alone for a week or two there would be absolutely no reason for his fear of people to reduce. In fact, he would only have had a period of extended fear. 

Instead, we nearly immediately began giving him the most important thing that one can give a horse in training--positive human experiences. The experiences must be positive from the horse's point of view.

That means that he needs to be given the kind of emotional security that he would have in a wild band with a lead horse in charge of movement, speed and direction of  band members. He also needs the warmth of physical contact that he would receive in a band of horses.

When we say that we train with 51% control and 49% affection, this  is what we mean. One cannot beat a horse into feeling secure, but one also cannot simply hug a horse into feeling secure. 

And that one word is the key to making progress with a horse --"security". As a prey animal  a horse wants nothing more than to simply be safe and secure. 

And without feeling secure there is no way a horse can ever feel confident. 

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