Changing up the conversation with the horse...

How do YOU and YOUR horse feel if: You go into the pasture/stall with a halter in your hand, but don't immediately catch your horse. You open the gate/stall door but don't go out it. When you do go out the door, you stop and "talk," instead of continuing on to wherever the tack up area is. You tack up "wrong"- place your saddle blanket on the horse's neck or rump instead of the "normal" area, or put the bridle on before saddle up. You lead from the horse's right side. Mount/dismount from the horse's right side. You mount/dismount multiple times in a session. At the end of the ride you head all the way back to the "normal" dismount area, then turn around and head back out as if you were doing another ride. Especially with seasonal changes potentially limiting the amount of time spent with your horse, or limiting the area in which you ride your horse, I find people and horses get stuck in a mental/physical rut as to the quality and intention of the conversations and interactions are. Without having to "go anywhere" there are so many things that you can offer to first assess, then perhaps address and refine, in your own intentions and how receptive your horse is to be asked something different from what he expected. These seemingly insignificant conversations contribute to you building a solid partnership with your horse so that the day you need to ask something unexpected of your equine partner, he is mentally available and physical soft towards the unknown, rather than becoming defensive due to you asking something he didn't expect. Folks are frequently shocked at how little it takes to "bother" their horse, and then how much it takes the help the horse let go of his frustration of not being asked what he expected. Instead of avoiding potential "holes" in your horsemanship, view as an opportunity to address them, in safe and ideal circumstances, before the day you NEED your horse to come through for you.

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