CONNECTION ... What dose this mean? Why is it the most important step during the education of a horse?
How I came to use this:
This connection process has been developed from the observations of how the foals in my mothers breeding herds, used to get brave enough to approach me. I combined that with all my studies on herd animal behavior. This gave me understanding of the instinctive reactions, flight zones, stress signs, relaxation signs and how horses bonded with each other. Then the years of catching the un-catchable horses in big paddocks or little dog mesh fences, that the horses could jump out of, I noticed a pattern and deeper understanding was developed.
At the start of my horsemanship journey, I used the most widely known technique, where you make it uncomfortable or push them to run till they look in and they learn being with you was a relief or a better choice then running.. even if they still didn't feel OK with the person. Now, I had some success with this with some horses but, horses that were scared or had high instinct/spirit, it didn't work, they never relaxed, some would even rather die than submit.. It just didn't feel right to me. Why was I chasing my friend round, when they look up tight/scared and why would they want to be with me if I chase them?
I noticed the horses still were very tense, even when they did come up licking and chewing. Then in big paddock or in herd they often couldn't be caught.
I also found that they got confused later on in lunge circles, they tried to stay close and not leave. Then if they got a fright they would come towards me.. (so dangerous when you have a bucking horse coming to you for relief).
I didn't often have solid round pens to work in, I had whatever the owners had. ( I think the funnest one was a17hh Clydesdale that nobody could catch for 12 months. With one strand of baling twine for a fence in a paddock that was bout 60mts squared, yet I caught him.)
The philosophy: Connection is not a lot different to the way we connect with a friend we have just met. But instead of conversations over texts, phone calls or chats over coffee, we need to use horse talk (body language). After the chats over coffee ect. we get to know, maybe even like the other person, we then become friends and bit by bit our personal space bubble get smaller. After time we may shake hands or greet each other with a touch on the arm or even a hug. As we get comfortable we can connect on a deeper level because we trust them more.
The only differences with our horses is that, we are having a conversation with our body language and we have the prey animal predator thing going on. So before being able to touch or rub on the horse the fear needs to be gone. We need to spent time getting to know them through conversation. Being mindful of where the horse is fearful, stressed and building this trust till they are relaxed enough to let us in their personal space, then to allow us to mutual groom or rub them and later halter them is just polite and vital. Any one who doesn't feel comfortable enough to trust a person, greeting them with a hug they will stiffen up. Horses are the same, we can see they are scared having us too close through their body language signs, if we know what to look for.
The horse's body language clearly shows where they are not OK with us coming close or touching them. If we listen to these signs and then only progress when the horse is relaxed, We are having a two sided respectful conversion and the horses respond by trusting us more.. That's what I want with my horses, a friendship. Watch below and ask any questions you need. To follow on you tube or facebook Type in Equality Equine Services and if you liked the blog share with your mates. Lets pass the word around to benifit our buddies.