Trust, Confidence ….. then Respect. It keeps coming back to this. I’m developing a couple of thoroughbred fillies and daily, I am reminded of this. Too much energy from me at this point, even as I enter the paddock, and the trust gets shaken around a bit.
When the wind is up, they are more inclined to move, so I ask them to join me at a canter when I run around the paddock away from them (as I’m trying to buck and rear and pigroot in play!) They’re not too sure at this stage what this all means, but heck, they figure – it looks like fun, so let’s join in! There’s no one around to laugh at me (or take photos) so it’s all good, uninhibited fun and at the end of my antics, they both trot over, and stand quietly near me, watching me carefully.
After we’ve caught our breath, I bring out my communication tools. They’re trying really hard to offer me their trust, standing still, with front legs spread, while I play around with my sticks and ropes. They start out with a bit of a worried look, which disappears as their confidence grows, and they even close their eyes, relaxed. Then they wonder if all this stuff is edible, so the rope chewing begins, and they pick up the stick between their lips and shake their head up and down, mocking my skills! They even try to pull the rope out of my hands …..ahhhh, this is where I can ask for some Respect! This is a good time to stand my ground and gently ask them to back away from me … in effect, moving their feet (not mine!) Just remember it all begins with Trust and in the early stages it can be fragile, so develop it slowly.
I love all this sort of play (and it’s a fun part of the education I offer to horses) as it really does help develop a bond between horse and human. And if you think it’s crazy stuff, don’t knock it till you try it! I’ve seen many students roll about on the arena sand, and run around gleefully with their horses, and the horses want to be with them all the more, running to them and leaving their horse mates to do it!
All this brings out our child-like play drive, and release your endorphins. And studies show that you need at least 12 good laughs a day to be healthy! So let your hair down, have a good roll, a run and a laugh!