Photo: Sitting with the horse in a roomy, enclosed area, asking nothing of him except politeness. This is a superb way to build a new relationship with a new horse or to to build an improved relationship with a horse we have already.
It’s only when we feel safe with our horse and our horse feels safe with us that real teaching and learning can go on. If our horse makes us feel worried or afraid, we need to take heed of the feeling and organize our environment so that we can be with the horse in a way that allows us to regain our safe, calm, centered core. Maybe we need to sit in our chair just outside the horse’s enclosure to start with.
It will be difficult for a horse to remain in his calm, centered core in our presence if we are sending out vibes that tell him we are uneasy and nervous. A good first step is to spend undemanding time with the horse, in his home if we feel safe there, or on the other side of a fence or gate if we don’t. We need to carry a swishy type body extension so that we can enlarge our bubble without offending the horse by striking out toward him. Horses are very sensitive to the air movement of two swishy twigs or dressage whips, or the swishing of a string rotated like a helicopter blade.
Horses easily understand when we are merely enlarging our bubble of personal space. If we strike out toward their personal bubble rather than just protect our own space, the horse will realize it instantly. It is important to be aware of the difference between acting in an assertive way and acting in an aggressive way, and to be mindful of which one we are doing.
As we sit with our horse, we can read, meditate or just enjoy the quiet of being in the moment, looking and listening and breathing. It’s nice if the horse can be in a roomy area where he is comfortable, able to see his companions but not where they can interfere with your special time together.
It works well to set a time limit. It doesn’t matter what the horse does. We are there as a companion, a paddock mate for the time we have set. We expect nothing of the horse except politeness. If he becomes overbearing, we move away with our chair or ask him to back off by swishing the air toward his feet to protect our personal bubble.
The PDF attached has a look at ways to ensure our safety.