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barriers and

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Using barriers to help a horse feel safe to respond with softness, vulnerability and intimacy to our physical touch.

Something I recently learned again.

I have a young stallion in training and he has vulnerability issues due to somethings and with my current methods of training I have been using less pressure with a more personal touch to work on redirection, as well as postural movements. Because of the way I ask him to do things with using my hand, he feels this is invasive on his vulnerability. Which in turn causes him to become defensive towards me. It only starts as a lean but we don’t need it to get any more than that.

However, if I use the barrier of a whip between us to initiate the contact instead of my hand, he is much better about it. So he uses the barrier to feel safer to respond to me.

I had a mare this last weekend at my clinic that was the same thing. If I would ask her to back up using my hand she would try to bite me. Use a whip or lead rope, she would back up quite easily.

We had another young horse at the clinic that was very fearful of the whips, and could not cope with being between them unless he had the barrier and familiarity of the lead rope attached the halter. By using the lead rope as a familiar aid he was able to handle both whips touching him at the same time.

Surprisingly, I cannot believe how many horses are taught to be so impervious and ignorant of our touch. We touch our horses, but we forget to ever put meaning or intent in it. We forget to pair the touch with connection. When we touch our horses, we should look for recognition from them that they have received our touch, and if they acknowledge it for what it is.

We should also recognize and be OK when our horse does not want our touch.

Some horses do not want you to touch them for various reasons. Maybe they cannot emotionally handle the vulnerability of you touching them with meaning coming from your hand.

Some horses cannot mentally come back to the present with the use of your hand as there is not enough significance in your hand at this time.

Your interaction with your hand and your horse should be like skin to skin contact between an intimate partner. Your horse should feel the connection, emotion and recognition when they feel the touch of your hand.

They react to you, you react them. It is a togetherness. Not one or the other.

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