Your Approach To Horses
Your Approach To Horses an article by Lara Sportelli Horse Whisperer, Barefoot Trimmer and Healer based in Devon
If you have horses, stop and think about how you approach them and how you are feeling internally and perhaps why you are with that particular horse, often animals are a huge mirror to get us to look at ourselves and often the animal has appeared to teach us some very valuable lessons.
For instance I have never, ever gone out and chosen an animal, they have always and I mean always fallen into my lap for one reason or another, even our horses, I have never gone out to go and buy an animal privately or in the sales, they have always found me, or we have been placed for us to find each other….
Yourself is the first thing to think about before you make any attempts with unhandled animals.
You would be surprised at the amount of articles out there, saying that your horse likes to be handled in a particular way or massaged, or groomed, or that there is this technique or that technique to follow and that is all fine and good, but the reason I laugh is this, when I read these articles telling us what our horses like or don’t like and what is good for them etc., it is very clear to me and lots of others in the know that whoever writes these articles is doing just that, writing, obviously it hasn’t entered their heads that they don’t understand exactly what they are writing about, they are just writing without knowledge and that is dangerous. It is also very clear who the people are who are writing without knowledge and who the people are that write with an understanding.
Now I am not putting myself out there as an expert, but I have been around the block a few times in different ways over many years, but the people who just don’t have a clue what they are talking about are obvious and easy to spot as they have never been around horses, or at least certainly not for long enough to study and observe them properly, never mind understanding their psychology, these people haven’t got the experience with horses and just shouldn’t even be writing about a topic that they have no mileage on and I would like to say to each and every one of these people: “get a reality check, what about if you cannot get near your horse or animal to do all this kind of stuff then what?” I would really love to hear their answers.
All the airy fairy stuff and I read enough in certain magazines too, is fine, if your horse is quiet and compliant and well mannered.
There are also people who put themselves out there as animal communicators and some just are naturally and some just aren’t. I remember once and only once did I have a horse whisperer out and quite a well-known one too, well nothing she told me wasn’t common sense and some stuff she told me I had no way of checking out to see if it related and it cost me £70 for the pleasure, well needless to say I never went that route again, I did it myself, working based on what I was dealing with in the now and yes we worked through things very well and I went from having a troubled horse to one whom I can do anything with.
Once I even left him standing tacked up in the middle of the road, asking him to calmly stand, whilst I had to run across a field after my wayward terrier, who had taken a liking to chasing sheep. Luckily when I got back my horse was standing exactly where I had asked him to and hadn’t even touched a blade of grass and needless to say I never took the terrier riding, well not around the Devon lanes again, too many sheep for me to worry about, but that story also tells us exactly what my horse sensed from that situation and that he knew that I didn’t need to worry about whether he was going to stay put or not, he just did.
Gaining a horses trust and building on that means that the partnership between the two of you works both ways and you know if you have that bond your horse will help you out when you are in a jam.
If you have got a horse that has never been touched or had anything in particular done with him you will know that the airy fairy stuff just doesn’t work and you will also know that you wouldn’t have taken on that particular horse or animal if you just didn’t know what you were doing and as most of you will know that knowing what to do is based on feeling, feeling whether things are right or wrong, knowing if your progress is right or wrong and being in the now and present and those of you who know horses will know exactly what I am talking about.
It is also about feeling and just being in the moment, look how much a horse appreciates it if you do just nothing except be in his company, as that is what horses do best, just be. They don’t have to worry about going to work or being late, but they sure pick up on things if we are in a hurry and this is an energy they just don’t understand, unless they are running away from being someone’s dinner of course.
Also if you are teaching a horse something new here are a few things to think about:
When I speak of gentle and quiet I do not mean smothering him or not talking, I mean gentle and quiet with how much and what kind of pressure you apply to ask him to do something and how is your body language when asking, or how gentle are you being if he has got himself scared or tied up in knots or plain excited about something?
Are you understanding your horse? he has emotions too, or are you forever nagging him or annoying him, these are things to watch out for. Obviously there are times when upping the pressure so to speak can reap rewards i.e. if your horse is difficult to catch it can go one of two ways, if you up the pressure by following him obviously you are giving him something to run from and you could be running after him all day. You could also walk on by, he may follow you, or just stand and do nothing, he may come up to you, you could also remove all the horses from the field and then give him the option to be caught, remember you have to gauge which one of these things is right to do and that is based on a feeling in the moment and also based on the horses character.
Maybe now you see what I mean by a technique for this and a technique for that and in fact none of the above may work, just depends on the moment, your mood and the mood of the horse. Then you have some horses that trust quicker and once they truly trust you will just never leave you alone and you can do anything with them and some that are slower to trust and everything takes time, but all the same, first of all with every horse, you have to gain something absolutely vital and that is trust, without this you aren’t going anywhere fast and you can forget the grooming, the massage or anything else for that matter.
You also have to show the horse that you are safe to be with and nothing bad is going to happen to them and then you build on that trust and gaining their trust starts with consistency and I am not talking about what time of day you do things, but I talk about the consistency of being there in their presence enough for the horse to build that trust and want to be with you and a little time every day in a calm way works wonders, sometimes you will go forwards and sometimes you will go backwards, but this is all normal and remember once your horse has learnt something well he won’t forget, so don’t keep asking him to do the same thing over and over and over again, as once you learnt your tables you learnt them, you didn’t want to have to recite them every day for the rest of your life and if he isn’t learning something, perhaps take time out to think how you are asking him.
It may sound like I am talking in circles and maybe I am, but then circles (not too many, but enough to bring their attention back to you) are also good for horses, but that is for another day.
Your horse needs to know that you are someone they can depend on and trust and that you put them in a space where they feel happy, safe and comfortable and no that doesn’t mean the stable, it means you, how is your space?
Hopefully I have written an article that does make some sense and that is also helpful too.
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