The Start of a Relationship
A few weeks ago my friend, Elaine asked me if I could help her with a few of her horses. She had two mares (miniature horses) that each had foals. Breezy had a two week old foal and Lady’s was four weeks old. Lady had been neglected, she didn’t like being touched and her foal wouldn’t let anyone near her. I am a firm believer in natural horsemanship and find that Pat Parelli’s seven games is the best place to start. All games begin with the friendly game. If we are to build a relationship with the horse they must first know we do not intend to hurt them. I began by playing with Breezy, first by rubbing her all over with my hand. When I went to pass behind her she turned. This tells me the horse does not trust me. When this happens I go back to the beginning, starting at the head and play the game until she lets me go all the way around her.After sucessfully playing the game with my hand I played it with a savvy string and with a rope halter. While playing with her I played with her baby Summer too. Playing with her feet and legs is important and eventually I was able to get the halter on her foal. I didn’t tie it, I will save that for another day when she is more comfortable with the idea.
Lady on the other hand was a different story. I let her and her foal stay in the pen while I worked with the other horses. From time to time I would get close enough to let her sniff my hand. I never let her know I wanted to touch her, it had to be her idea. Eventually I was able to touch her face and then rub her on her body and even hug her. Libby, her foal wouldn’t let me to close. While hugging her mother I would stroke her back gently and then take my hand away. The idea was to get her use to being touched without asking for to much. Elaine, was quite emotional when she saw me with Lady. She really wanted to get close to her horse. If we take small steps it will make a huge difference in the relationship with our horse. That night Elaine and her son went out to play with the horses. While she was successful with Summer and Breezy she was quite upset that after almost an hour of trying, Lady wouldn’t let her near. She wanted to be with this horse so much that she didn’t realize the pressure she was putting on her. It’s like when someone is giving you a dirty look or starring at you, you can feel the pressure without them even touching you. Once she understood this she tried again and was more successful. I look forward to more stories about the horses of Whirlly Bird Farms. Did you visit? Leave a comment!