SETTLING IN / RE/CONNECTING 9
PROGRAMME STEP 4
SOME TIPS & TRICKS WHEN TRYING TO ENDEAR YOURSELF TO A HORSE
Here are a few tips and tricks during these few sessions of just spending time connecting with your horse.
A really good trick to have up your sleeve is to as the horse approaches you don't reach out your hand but reach out your face to it's nose instead.
This is the way horses meet each other so you are really doing something your horse can get it's head around.
Try not to get in the horses space too much, be respectful , but reach your face out and act like your gently sniffing.
Horse protocol here is pretty standard, it's like someone reaching out to shake your hand, they will generally reach out their nose and blow on your face. If your horse is comfortable with you doing this a good trick is to also reach out your hand and act like you are gently grooming them on top of their neck in the middle.
Horse who are best friends, when they've been separated from each other for a while then re-united will do this, they will go and groom each others necks at first re-contact.
If you do this you are clearly communicating, in a language your horse definitely understands, that you consider him a friend. When your horse does it back to you, he is telling you he also considers you a friend ;)
There are other little things you can do, such as sitting on the ground in their paddock. Horses are just too curious and will pretty much always want to know what you're doing. So it's a great way for you to engage with each other with the horse as the instigator coming to you ;)
I am hoping you are starting to know a little about this horse by now, by observing it's little mannerisms, know it's likes and dislikes, etc.
We want this horse to feel completely safe and be able to trust you.
When that trust is given you are to use it to encourage out their personality by playing a little with them, talking to them asking them questions and allowing them to react and respond etc, try to get them engaging and listening to you.
Try to get them interacting, you can do things that they will understand such as pawing the ground with your leg or nodding your head at them ;) and see what they do.
But what I definitely would like you to do this time as well as trying the others, and it's a really good one for trust, is walking round the paddock picking grass for them, bringing it back to them and giving it to them, but explaining it to the horse, so you say, I'm going to go get you some grass, go get it and as you're walking away you say ooo here's some nice grass, (horses always know the word grass), say GOT IT pick it and bring it back saying I got it here it is etc, give it and continue, often you'll end up with a mate at your back following you around and playing that game , he'll start hunting for the 'good grass' with you.
The key here is the focus is off him and you are doing something clearly definable by him and something good to him. You will find, doing this all of a sudden your horse is not so un-trusting or touchy or jumpy with you, it will engage and listen and be very relaxed. Doing this is key to our next step also ;) Watch and read his eyes during all.
The more time spent and more often you do this obviously the more your horse will relax and trust you. So I would say minimum 3 times, each time achieving a good level of engagement from the horse.
STEP 4 GOAL & OUTCOME:
The goal of this step is to get your horse trusting your guidance and agenda a little in an un-intimidating and clear way. While they are completely relaxed.
The thing many don't realize is the horses brain functions in such a way that when they are scared they are actually unable to learn, so any action you take with a new horse, (who is in a slight state of fear), if you want it to progress rather than regress your relationship and his understanding has to be done in a state of complete laid back relaxation.
If you instead grab the horse, then try to teach him by making him do "groundwork" it won't stick and he won't have learnt anything the next day, why? Because he was scared at the time and scared horses cannot learn. He was scared because he does not yet know you well enough. Their brain is made that way. ;)