"It's the thought that counts!"

"It's the thought that counts!"
Samantha Harvey & Taylor to Perfect
Alternative Horsemanship with Samantha Harvey & The Equestrian Center, LLC Copyright 2017. Articles and/or photographs posted on this site may NOT be reproduced or copied without written permission.


Weathering the weather while retaining "Mental Availability"

Over the past few years Mother Nature has offered more than her share of natural disasters challenging both humans and animals in extreme situations ranging from devastating fires, floods, earthquakes, heavy snows, long winter freezes, to "long term" power outages/shortages. I was inspired to write about this topic after a wet wintery day.
I'm sure you've all experienced a day like today no matter where you live. For those of you living where I spend my winters (SW AZ,) the following weather report is rare and usually only happens once (yes, ONCE) a year because the norm precipitation is less than several inches for the ENTIRE year... According to the Weather Underground website it was reported today as follows:
"Very windy. Showers with a chance of thunderstorms. Rain will be heavy at times. Southwest wind 30 to 40 mph in the evening...becoming 15 to 20 mph after midnight. Gusts to 55 mph in the evening...becoming 30 mph after midnight. Chance of measurable rain 90 percent. High Wind Warning in effect until midnight MST tonight... Flash Flood Watch in effect through Friday afternoon... Tornado Watch 8 in effect until 10 PM MST this evening... "
I'm not going to give you the common "How prepared are you..." speech but rather something else. I'm also not going to focus on things such as riding on a windy day, or desensitizing a horse towards those "life threatening plastic bags" that whip past on windy days. I'm also not going to talk about evacuation preparedness for your four legged friends.
The point of this entry is to encourage you to be prepared by helping your horse ahead of time. As someone once told me "Expect the unexpected." You never know what you might face with your horse, but why "wait and see" how the both of you will handle an unforeseen event?
What I am going to address is how to get from POINT A (where your horse currently is) to POINT C (where he needs to end up) in an emergency situation while experiencing the least amount of stress possible (for BOTH of you.)

You may be asking why I called my second point "C." This is because there is also a POINT B that too often is forgotten about or not addressed with enough priority because typically during times of stress, panic, worry, fear, chaos, bad weather, and traumatic situations all too often people's and horse's brains check out. This of course is the WORST possible time for this to happen.
Point B that I've mentioned could be various situations. It might be the actual loading into a horse trailer to evacuate a property. Or it may be needing your horse to cross (while you lead him) the ditch/stream/river to get to higher or safer ground. It could be needing to have your horse ponied, roped, hobbled, tied or herded somewhere for his own safety. Or how about when you get that flat on your horse trailer or have engine problems and need to unload your horse on the side of a busy road. It could also be having SOMEONE ELSE having to handle your horse (they may not interact with him the way "mom" does) but he will still need to be participative.
You'll find if you've read any of my past blogs or if you've visited my website one of my main focuses is working on creating a horse's mental availability. So how does a horse's mental availability have anything to do with bad weather or an emergency situation?
I have found a horse's physical actions are a reflection of his mental and emotional status. If he is feeling confident and relaxed on the inside, he'll be physically cooperative and happily participative on the outside. I wrote a recent post about not being "hopeful." You might take a moment to review it. Being challenged by a stressful situation and still having to "get the job done" with your horse is NOT THE TIME to start neither “training him” nor when you want to be "hopeful" in how you interact with him.
The point of this blog is to stimulate YOUR thinking about "POINT B." I'm not going to explain literally "how to" prepare for point B. There is no way we can ever expose our horse to ALL the situations he might experience in life. Instead if AHEAD of time (who knows when the unexpected event will occur) you have built a trusting partnership based on clear communication with your horse he will be mentally prepared and available under any circumstance presented to be helpful and REASONABLE. This will eliminate unnecessary stress for the both of you.
Your goal should be to encourage our horse to "TRY" to think about what it is that you are asking of him (even if he's never experienced the scenario before.) On the calm quiet days you will need to take the time and put in the effort to build a solid foundation with our horse by teaching him to mentally address and focus on whatever you may present.
By preparing ahead of time and without the stress of a "crazy" situation you will have established the tools in communication necessary to SUPPORT (not physically manhandle or force) your horse to explore his options and then participate in a reasonable manner during a stressful situation. Your end goal is for him to be mentally available to search for the "right" answer no matter the situation, circumstance or stress level without him having a complete mental break down.

Keep Warm! Sam

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Sam
www.learnhorses.com