Gravitation to a More Passive Approach to Horsemanship-
For those of you who are wondering why is the horse health lady, blogging about horsemanship again 😉
It is important to remember that horses are herd animals. Connection and bond have a big impact on a horse’s health, and trust happens to be one of the 8 Laws of Health… it also has a lot to do with the two mustangs I recently adopted and the journey that it seems to be leading on.
Including the recent clinic I attended, graciously hosted at the Eagle and Wild Horses Ranch and taught by Elsa Sinclair. I am currently sharing a series of blog posts from my experiences from that clinic.
One thing that Elsa talked about at her clinic was how the more dominant based methods ( which utilize a majority of dominant conversations) of horsemanship when not balanced with other types of conversations can lead to more consequence delivering from the horse. Or maybe more simply said can lead to a more dominant behaving horse.
Which can prove to be problematic to the less dominant or less confident horse owner… She clarified often, as I would like to as well, that dominant styles or even a more assertive approach is not necessarily wrong. It is just we need to be aware of the various types of communication and conversations that can be had with horses and approach with what works best for each horse and even for ourselves.
When I was in high school I was confident and quiet comfortable with the more dominant approach, as I could handle the more dominant side that it would or could bring up in my horse without a concern. As I get older, my confidence is not as solid as it used to be, and raising the risk of having a horse deliver their own dominant consequence is far less appealing.
Those hesitations are part of what led me to other options, along with a desire to find a more peaceful less resistant path. My mustangs are both decent sized just over 15 hands and solid built, I would prefer to work with them as much as possible to reach my goals. Rather then trying to convince or force them into anything. Although the natural horsemanship I have used and loved for many years works well with them, there was a piece that still felt like it was missing… this more passive leadership approach, for me, I believe was that piece.
Judging and Assessing Less, Trusting and Moving Forward More-
I mentioned in the first post of this series that Elsa’s clinic helped clear some of the fog that was in my mind.
I am curious can you relate to the fog I described? The feeling of swimming in a sea of too many opinions, methods, and options.
Do you get lost in a clutter of ways or methods you could use to work with your horse? Possibly you just don’t even know where to begin, because there are plenty of opinions on that as well…
Looking back on when I was younger, I simply just didn’t care of what others were doing or what they thought! I was still very open to learning but happy to do things however I felt they needed to be done. I am on a mission of finding that side of me again, as it seems she is in that fog in my head.
The lovely Roheryn helped me through some of that fog at the clinic. She was a great horse to partner with and I told her current adopter George, that if he decided to ever part with her, I might need to know… She like my mustang Marshal had spent most of her life in the holding facility. When you meet her it is so hard to understand, because she is great! Curious, friendly, and ready to be a partner.
I had the opportunity to work with her a few times at the clinic and the last session I had with her made a positive shift for me, reminding me that I am enough and I can accomplish what I plan and set out to do. That when I listen to my intuition and get out of my head, things can just flow and be.
Progression and Movement-
The session in which Roheryn helped me the most, we were working on the horse moving through Elsa’s steps of tolerance, acceptance, and enjoyment with rocking or movement of our initiation. Elsa suggested I work with Roheryn’s legs, as I had mentioned Marshal’s leg issues.
I was nervous at first, as her owner had mentioned that although she was good with him she did not do well with the farrier and when Elsa went to show me where she would start, Roheryn was not very tolerant or accepting.
After observing where her “no” spot was, I chose to start at a more comfortable space (for both of us) at her withers, then I progressed to her shoulder, continuing to move down the leg. I rewarded and recognized any sign of enjoyment she offered, and would then begin again where it was easy and move down the leg. My goal was to do the rocking motion and have Roheryn accepting it; moving into enjoying it all the way to the hoof.
As I moved past the knee I forgot to continue with a pattern I had began further up the leg, this did upset her and she chose to leave promptly. But after connecting with her again and restarting at the easy place and moving down with the continued pattern I started with, I was able to get to her hoof in a short matter of time. After a good yawn and release I chose that was a place to end the session with her.
Mindset Shift and Focus Change-
Even after practicing this work with my horses for only a short time, it surprises me how a simple mindset change from, how do I get this horse to complete the task to how does the horse perceive and at what level do they accept or enjoy this task, has done for the connection and desire in the horse.
Although for many years I was aware it is best to end a session on a positive note… ending on a sign of enjoyment is much better. This new idea is helping me be less skill or task focused and yet has me excited to try more things then I was before.
For those curious on what Elsa Sinclair teaches check out her blog Equine Clarity and her movie Taming Wild. Thank you again Eagle and Wild Horses Ranch for the photos of the horses we worked with and for hosting such a great clinic!
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Life is better when you’re horsin’ around!