Photo Essay Part 2: Loosening Up to Follow the Feel

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Here is Blue again, learning to follow a feel without crowding me.  He is pretty spoiled at this point and wants to push on people to get scratches and affection.  In this series of photos, Blue and I work through how to lead past me with a respectful distance and keep him front end off of me while maintaining a float in the rope. You will see the close relation between his mental state of rudeness and his physical shape – bulging at the shoulder and stiffening his neck, as well as when he lets down and relaxes – his body becomes more supple and bends through his spine with the relaxing of his underneck.  These little things make a big difference to the horse and add up in many ways that count.

 

For more reading on pushy horses, please read my articles on Nicker News:

Space and Respect

Pushy Horse, Lazy Owner

 

1

This picture shows him just after being sent out.  His first reaction was to step toward me, so I sent him off  directing some feel toward his shoulder

2

Sending him away from me caused him to rush off pretty upset about the whole thing.  He is uncomfortable without being on top of people

3

He is considering how to lead past me to the right without stepping forward into me.  I am helping him by tipping his nose to the right a little and stepping toward his right eye

4

he got a little stuck there

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he makes it and turns loose through his body

6

Getting a little more comfortable on that right side

7

when changing directions, again you can see his front end really wants to come toward me, making him on the forehand and a little upset and rigid.  He does not yet understand how to lighten the front end to stop and turn without coming over the top of a person, which til then was what he knew to do

8

he makes the turn but still sticky in that shoulder which is bulging toward me.  You can see his underneck is pretty rigid here and his “pushing on the human” muscles are pretty active

9

Here is a pretty nice picture of a horse learning to bend through his body while maintaining a float in the rope and a good distance from me

10

of course petting a horse isn’t bad, but here it is my idea and he isn’t pushing all over me and using me as a scratching post.  I let him know I like him and am happy to pet him, but will do so in a way that fits us both a little better. 

He now has a better understanding of what is expected of him and is much more relaxed about his interactions with people.  Different horses are going to need different ways of being handled, and different people will want different things from their horses.  It’s not about the “rules” but about finding a way that works for both parties.  He still loves affection but is understanding how to go about getting it in a way that doesn’t involve pushing on people, which works great for him and his owners both.

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