The 3 Choices
Acceptance, Connection, Leadership
Routines I have established over the years of learning and practicing Natural Horsemanship have taught me to always be aware of what my horse is thinking about me as his Team Leader 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 only on my horse. I continue to walk with confidence until he sees me and at that moment I stop..dead in my tracks, and relax and watch. see, I am entering his herd, his “home” his space, the space that he shares with his herd for more than 22 hours a day every day without me. I respect this and so my stopping is a “knock on the door” to ask permission to enter his space. It is at this moment my horse has "3 CHOICES"…each one telling me something different about our partnership at that
moment and how my horse feels about me being there. I absolutely pay attention to this and read my horse.
"When your intention is on your horse, the others shouldn't react."
If when he notices me no matter how far away I am, he looks and then turns and walks away, it speaks volumes to me. It tells me that either I am still too direct line in my approach and putting too much pressure toward him or perhaps our last play sessions generated some reluctance on his part to want to be with me.
Either way, it tells me that I have no Acceptance, No Connection...and no Leadership. At this stage, I might just hang out with the herd and call it a day. It wouldn't be a time that I would need to "get" him just to check something off a list or take advantage of the time. Cut your losses but always start to consider why?
If he notices and looks at me no matter how far away he is and then puts his head down and continues to graze, it is a signal to me that he has given me permission to enter and he doesn’t find me threatening but he is still indifferent about me being there. It is as if he says to me, "Come on in and join the herd but I am not really interested in what you have to offer". This response tells me I have "Acceptance" but “No Connection”, No “Leadership". This is the first step and it now that I would explore this a little bit by pushing the Team Leadership button just a little by repeating the whole process again after walking closer and closer.
Can you see his head go down to continue grazing?
Now if he looks at me no matter how far away he is and locks eyes on me, ears facing me as if nothing else matters in the world, then I hope that he would start to move toward me. If he doesn't come towards me then I will ask him to draw to me. It is then that I draw him like a magnet by walking backward until he catches me. Although I needed to connect with him closer to him than when I entered, my leadership is now respected and he trusts my guidance, wants to be with me, and accepts my leadership to ask him into my herd of two...… I have "Acceptance", “Connection” and I have “Leadership”.... and by the way the best feeling in the world.