The Art of Natural Dressage

Working with the Horse's Initiative
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 Post subject: Finding trust
PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:03 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
Posts: 1620
Location: Western Cape, South Africa
Hi all,
I was inspired this morning by a newcomer (Greg!) to start a new topic. I am not sure if there is one already, so please feel free to move this where you think it fits.
This topic is one that I know a lot of us have experienced with horses that have come from previous homes and have been mis-treated or neglected. These are the horses that show no interest in humans at all and just don't have any idea that humans can be nice. :D
So to start I thought I would offer up ideas of things I have done to help gain trust at liberty with horses that are particularly wary of humans to get them to understand I have no intentions.
Sharing space........sometimes this works well but not if you have other horses in the same space that are interested. Sometimes the horse in question will stand back and observe...but they are still learning. (They are learning that the others do come of their own free will and aren't eaten. :funny: )
Clicker and treats. If you can get the horse to take a treat and be interested in treats then you can move in very baby steps to touching while treating etc.
Sharing grazing.....I love this one and have not seen it fail yet even with the hardest of horses that grab and run! All horses graze what is seasonally appropriate and if you spend some time shadowing what they are eating, you will soon spot which type of grass or plant they are searching for on that day. So go ahead and start picking it. A handful is much less work than finding it themselves. Consistant picking and going to and from the horse in question in a calm quiet manner and before you know it the horse is making an attempt to get to you before you are done.
I do believe that these types of horses can only learn another way if they are exposed to them. This can be very difficult if you have a horse that takes off and doesn't want to come near you at all. In this case spending time shadowing the horse and being part of his herd is key to having him accept that he has to deal with you, he can't go on ignoring you. Even the hardest of horses eventually come around when you spend enough time in their space. They may not choose to be with you, but will come to make contact eventually once you have shadowed and retreated enough times.
So anyone got ideas they want to add? :D

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Annette O'Sullivan

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. - John Lennon


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 Post subject: Re: Finding trust
PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2010 1:49 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 12, 2010 4:08 am
Posts: 122
Location: Alberta, Canada
Thanks Annette!

I like the idea of shadowing and sharing grazing with him. He really loves food, and we thought he was getting more used to us, but we hung out near the fence where they get their hay and supplements. He would stay around waiting to be fed. Once we started spending time out in the pasture he stayed way further away. Looking forward to try grazing with him :thumleft:

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 Post subject: Re: Finding trust
PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2010 1:44 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
Posts: 1620
Location: Western Cape, South Africa
It's very Carolyn Resnick ish!!! :D (I know you are a fan, I am too, have used quite a few of her ideas).
She will tell you to move a horse off it's spot of grazing (in a respect situation), but a new horse in a herd generally will get shadowed and grazed alongside always keeping an exact distance staying out the kick zone. As they get more accepted into the herd, they graze closer until they are allowed to share alongside.
We as humans can do exactly the same thing. At first there is usually the personal space issue, you move a meter in, the horse moves a meter away etc. But once it is clear to the horse that you are really there as a giver, not to grab the horse or make him move with psychological or physical pressure, he begins to relax and then all of a sudden starts to show interest in what you are doing. If you have a horse that is relaxed and likes people close it can be a good idea to have them graze at liberty too alongside the horse you want interaction with. Jealousy over food treats can sometimes bring the uncertain horse much closer!!!!!!
I walk just about daily with the herd of 10, my horse stands with. All but two will let me walk up to them without lifting their heads from grazing. The other two will approach for a treat, but will not be touched at liberty. However they are happy for me to sit very close and will continue to graze, they just don't want physical touching.
Virtually none of these horses will let the groom get near them at liberty. To them he is seen as a herder and someone who tacks them up and puts them to work. He approaches and they leave!!!! :D He could just not understand how I can walk among them and they are not bothered and don't leave. Just last week I saw him with a bag of cut watermelon out with them in the mountain, and he proudly told me yesturday that my horse is now his friend!!!!!! :D
Please do start a diary and let us know how it goes......

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Annette O'Sullivan

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. - John Lennon


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