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- I read your article about "How to create a Special Bond with
your horse" with tears in my eyes - I WANT that special bond
with my horse, but she isn't interested in any of the bonding
gestures you described in your article.
my filly as a foal because I really had a special bond with
her mother, but the owner wouldn't sell. From the time the baby
hit the ground, she was a sassy brat. She kicked the barn owner
the first day, and reared up and tried to strike me with her
feet the first week.
For 3 years,
I was determined to create a bond between us. I've logged a
LOT of hand grazing hours, and just hanging around hours, but
she still hasn't warmed up to me yet. A trainer started riding
her last October and she was good as gold for her, but I still
can't lunge her without her rearing or trying to kick me.
else can brush her, but if I touch her side, she moves away
and pins her ears. I have never beat her or given this horse
any physical reason to dislike me. She has had the best feed,
vet and farrier care we could buy. = Everyone who meets her
comments on how friendly and easy to manage she is, but she
doesn't want me to rub her withers or pet her head or anything.
She comes to the fence whenever she sees me, but as soon as
she finds out I don't have a treat, she leaves. If I do have
a treat, she eats it, then pins her ears and demands more. .
. then leaves.
her stall, she isn't careful about where I am and often turns
her rump to me and backs up, but has never kicked me. She did
pin me in the corner by the door one day and try to flatten
me against the wall, so I really have to watch her. She has
no respect for me whatsoever.
is a long time to try and make friends without much success.
I'm sure there is something I'm leaving out. I have had good
relationships with horses in the past, but this one has me stumped.
- A. (April 2006)
Thank you for your letter. Without meeting you and the filly
this will be hard to figure out. It sounds like you are giving
it your all and I respect you for trying.
all, let me just say there are mismatches and maybe this is
what you have with this filly. But I think it is worth trying
many options before you give up on her.
have a professional animal communicator talk with your filly
and find out. I don't know how you feel about this kind of work
but I have found it extremely helpful and useful. A good communicator
will be able to tell you what is going on and why the filly
is treating you this way.
many things for you to consider when communicating with a horse.
They have to like the smell of you, the sight of you, your way
of moving, your ability to move with them, your opinion of yourself
must be excellent without being arrogant, your touch soft but
firm, your messages to the horse must be very clear and understandable,
you must show them great compassion even when they hurt you
and the hardest of all, you must be clear of your own issues
and hang ups that might send her negative energy. If any of
this is not agreeable to her, the filly will find ways to express
her opinion and choose someone else.
as though the filly has been testing you all along. When she
strikes out, stomp your foot hard on the ground and change your
voice low and strong and say "unacceptable behavior" and make
her just stand there and think for a minute. Don't hit her or
back her up or jerk on her just ask her to stand still and think.
Give her some time and wait. Talk to her while you are waiting
in a very soft voice. This is very hard for a youngster to do
and it is a lesson that goes deeper than any physical discipline.
When you see a change in her eye, she begins to lick and chew,
she yawns, drops her head, any sign of release, then massage
her between the ears and on the withers to lower her blood pressure.
Anytime she does something you consider disrespectful try this.
is rearing and bucking and pulling against you on the lunge
line again she is testing you. As long as she is going forward
in the direction you are asking then she can play a bit on the
line and I encourage some bucking and playing and galloping
as long as they are going forward and stay out on the circle.
When or if they do decide to stop and rear or change direction,
I shorten the lunge line, again stomp my foot(as a lead mare
would do) and say "unacceptable" in a strong deep voice, go
up to her and guide her back on the circle saying "it's okay,
now let's try this again" and send her with my lunge whip. If
they know they can have some fun and it's not all about pressure
and work they enjoy being lunged. But you have to know what
you are doing to change her behavior.
as it may sound, I have talks with my horse when things aren't
going well. I will put his halter on and look him in the eye
and have a discussion with him about what I am giving to him,
how important he is to me, what I want and need from our relationship
and then give him choices to participate or not with me. I will
actually discuss the whole problem out loud in the pasture or
if I am alone in the barn, in his stall. It has worked beautifully
every time. Thankfully my horse has always answered "yes" I
want to dance with you and not be a couch potato. But I have
offered him the choice.
sounds as if she has been out of balance in her mind, body and
soul since she was born. She simply sounds angry at the world
to me. My mare Theo was the same way when I met her and it was
because she had been in pain for so long and learned to live
with the anger. Once I took away all of her pain and gained
her trust she was the partner of a lifetime, but that process
took several years.
could have inherited loads of toxins through her mother's milk
(heavy metals and vaccine trash) and become difficult and high
strung and temperamental because of the stiffness, tension and
lack of mental processing the toxins set up. Or her nervous
system is off-balance because of an injury no one has been able
to locate such as a deep soft tissue injury in the neck which
is causing headaches and pain. There is the extremely rare incidence
of a horse being born mentally ill and dangerous but I certainly
wouldn't go that route until I had tried everything else.
I am just
speculating to give you some ideas. But I would really need
to see you and the filly to be sure.
communicator is going to be your best bet. - Mary
may print the letter. Maybe some other people out there are
having the same trouble with their horses too.
last night the filly had a lesson with the barn trainer, and
she tried the kicking on the lunge line with her, but the trainer
pushed her through it. By the end of the session, my horse was
not too happy, but she was lunging without a fight.
I went into her stall and tried just approaching her at the
withers and giving her a little rub. Usually, she will turn
to face me and pin her ears. But, last night she was MORE than
happy to stand and have a friendly, soothing hand giving her
some comfort. So, I think we are making progress! Sometimes,
all it takes is someone to give some friendly advice - and offer
much needed encouragement.
I do believe
in horse communicators. I just never knew one before, and I'm
sure there are more than a few questionable people in that profession.
Thank you. I would like to try a few of the things you've suggested,
then if it seems we are still not moving forward, I will certainly
get in touch with Cali. Interesting that she has the same name
as my filly's pasture mate!= Thanks also for the speedy reply!
A.: I think
I need to be clear and honest about what is going on with your
filly. I am not questioning your judgment or being offensive
in any way, I just do not want to see another horse misunderstood
and passed from person to person and ending up who knows where.
that are angry about something will only get worse when pushed
and pressured. And fillies/mares are at the top of the sensitivity
scale. They get hot easily, they get hyper very easily, then
their nervous systems are over taxed and their mind's check
out. They basically have a very sensitive circuit breaker and
if the wattage is wound up too high for them to handle and process
they will blow a fuse and you have lost their brain. She is
telling you through her actions that she is not comfortable
within herself and cannot handle what is being asked. If this
continues she could easily be ruined (dangerous and incorrigible)
by the time she is 5. (See my newsletters about the "Nervous
of how she is being handled needs to happen. Slow, quiet ground
working with lots of mental "thinking" exercises will influence
her and educate her much more quickly and deeply than putting
her on a lunge line and making her work. The world needs to
be slowed way down, like moving underwater, for these horses.
They will honor and respect you and the trainer and want to
partner with you if you take this approach with her. And she
will be able to process her lessons where as now she just goes
through the motions of what she is supposed to do.
just been through all of this with my 8 year old Hanoverian.
He was fried mentally and physically when I got him at 5 years
old and every trainer's solution had been to push him and make
him work harder.
taken me two years to recover his mind and body to where he
is safe, quiet, comfortable and happy in his work and with himself.
need lots of good body work along with the slow, quiet thinking
training. Either under saddle or in-hand for the next 6 months
minimum, I would probably take her out for long walks 3 times
per week asking her to do simple things and give her little
challenges along the way plus 1 day of ground work and the rest
turnout. Perhaps on the 5th day body work, massage and grooming
just with you and no demands. Let her learn by being proud of
herself and her little accomplishments. It takes a great deal
of patience and compassion to successfully train a horse like
also try putting Rescue Remedy in her water everyday and a few
drops on her tongue before she works, this will help her emotions
to settle and relax through her back.
in your journey with her. Very Sincerely, Mary
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