The 3 Choices
The routines that I have established over the years of learning and practising Natural Horsemanship have taught me to always be aware of what my horse is thinking about me as his leader and partner and it is for this reason that I always enter the herd the same way every time.
As I approach wherever the herd may have stationed themselves, I keep my eyes looking for my horse. I continue to walk with confidence until he sees me and at that moment I stop..dead in my tracks, and watch.
After all, I am entering his herd, his “home” his space, the space that he shares with his herd for at more than 22 hours a day every day. I respect this and so my stopping is a “knock on the door” to ask permission to enter. It is at this time that my horse has 3 responses…each one telling me something different about our partnership at that moment and how he feels about me being there. I absolutely pay attention to this and read my horse.
Response #1- If he looks at me and then turns and walks away, it speaks volumes. It tells me that either I am too direct line in my approach toward him or perhaps our past play sessions have generated some reluctance on his part … I have no Connection, no Leadership…and no Acceptance.
Response #2- If he looks at me and then continues to graze, it is a signal to me that he has given me permission to enter because he doesn’t find me threatening and he is indifferent about me being there. This response tells me I have “No Connection”, No “Leadership" but some Acceptance.
Response #3- If he looks at me, locks eyes on me, ears facing me as if nothing else matters in the world, and he is accepting my leadership to ask him into my herd of two. I draw him like a magnet, my leadership is respected and he trusts my guidance and wants to be with me..… I have “Connection” and I have “Leadership” and I have Acceptance.
What I do as a result of each of these responses results in what I need to do to have my horse to want to catch me. I am not describing how to do that here, but if we skip to the end, it is so important to have your horse touch you first by having your horse draw toward you.
Please understand how important it is to never enter your horse’s pasture/paddock or stall and just walk right up to him, put his halter on, and lead him away. This does not allow him a choice to express how he feels about you being there and you will have lost a very important moment in your relationship building, if not for that day for the future.
So the next time you go out to “get” your horse..start to think about it from his point of view. You may not have any problems catching him…but I can promise you that you will deepen your partnership if you ask your horse to “catch” you.