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Tying the Horse- It isn't about "making" him stay
How often do you "make" your horse stay? I don't. I often get asked about how I work with horses and when folks see pictures of videos of the horse(s) offering to stay without fleeing when in an open field. I thought I'd share this video of Chance. He came to me as a 15-year old that was deemed "psycho" by the two previous trainers that sent him home. He'd been handled, ridden, etc. was extremely herd bound and was "sweet" until he "suddenly" would blow up when bothered. He couldn't lead, would run through fences, and be unreasonable.
Chance's story isn't unique. Sadly, it is frequently what I encounter in the older horse arriving for re-education. I've had to re-start Chance, just like he was a youngster. I had to assume nothing. I've had to create a safe space for him to express his worries, fears, and concerns, without critique, and instead took it as information as to how he needed my support to learn how to think through and let go of his worry. When bothered, he would flee, which is the most natural response and best defense a horse has to protect themselves. We spent a long time in the pasture initially, as haltering, physically being next to him, touching him, would have him vibrating and snorting like a dragon. Along with his strong flee, he had the "pull back" ingrained deep within him. Anytime he was bothered and on the lead rope, he'd offer to fly backward, which meant that his experience and interpretation of physical pressure was that of containment, rather than support. As he learned that pressure was offering him support, guidance, and boundaries, he began to breathe, let down emotionally, and start thinking, staying mentally present even in initially concerning moments. This affected his reasonableness in his physical behavior as he encountered new, unknown, or previously stressful scenarios. Such as being tied or in close proximity to a horse trailer. If you saw yesterday's post with the "Three painted musketeers," he was the horse on the right. Ground tied. Saddled. And near other horses. All these things were unimaginable to his owners who warned me he was the type of horse that would "jump" out the trailer window. I thought I'd share this video of the first time I tied him to the horse trailer to show you his mental, emotional and physical state reflecting his experience of the scenario. Did I randomly one day suddenly ask him to be tied? No. It was a result of all the previous Conversations and interactions we've been having to help him let go of his defensiveness towards pressure, allowing him to have a new experience, proving to him, things with the human weren't going to cause him to experience his past on guard responses. So when a horse is tied, in my opinion, it should never feel to the horse that I'm making them stay, but rather that they are offering to wait.