We unraveled a horse’s past today…not through horsemanship handling instead through animal communication. What we discovered would have taken me a while to have assessed, but instead it came straight from the horse’s mouth. He shared his two sides; that of a pocket “pony” and the contrast of the debilitating fear that he is overcome by on occasions ~ where he cannot trust himself or rely on himself and therefore would not be in a position to support a rider. With incredible reactions, not thought out, and no coping skills to respond he could spin, spook, back-up and be so fast that not many could ride during those moments. His body would take over, with no space for his mind to think. It felt like PTS, without particular standard triggers, but instead unfamiliar circumstances or unexpected circumstances that would startle him to bring on such a reaction. 90% of the time he is that puppy dog, relaxed, kind and capable, straight forward happy and unconcerned. In controlled situations there would be no matter for concern and arena riding would work. He appreciates repetition, structure even and has had some exposure, although remains somewhat innocent with a dominant side. Difficult for most trainers to discern for not all situations would display or bring this behavior forward making him unpredictable. A Western approach, with understanding is the way to go. In the past he would have experienced a trainer that persisted, even “nagged” him during a time of fear thus unleashing adrenaline he could not handle creating an individual so reactive that few could muster. A common approach to talk at a horse and not with a horse, common to create a system and technique vs listening and adapting. Common to push on and push through, common to raise the pain with the stick. Most will hold the horse tapping them with a stick to “encourage” them to go over an object, not realizing when to stop, when to pause, and when to change their methods. Not knowing how much pressure its causing, as they seek the end result. Or even consider that this may be classed as invasive, abusive or damaging and violating. Its all in the eye of the receiver… Most horses can and will adjust and adapt, giving in, giving up, accepting and acknowledging the style, while others will be deemed dangerous as they are not able to comprehend and process and thus “resist”. His personality and past required another kind of training to support his needs. Scared and not able to let go, he held onto this piece of his past within his body ~ like so many people do too. Some by choice as it defines them, some out of necessity and some not knowing how to release. He just knew he held on..for that time he would need to leave…It was within him, lodged deep down even if it no longer served him, he could not truly know that and even if he did his body held on tightly. Now he would most benefit from a person who rides out as part of their job, an individual who could integrate him into their day. Not “train” him, but instead include him into their activities and with it give him a chance to explore, experience and learn..without pressure of 30,60 or 90 days. Ride him with understanding and kindness, not reprimand and have to be “right”…not kick, beat or insist..show him another way. Not everyone is up to the task and not everyone has the environment conducive. He would then progress and just maybe be in a position to let the past go and trust in himself more. Meanwhile light hearted training, tricks, interactions and enjoyment is the way to continue forward and thus he can release the past and pave the way for a future that accepts him no matter who he is…just like we ask from our human partners..acceptance. And that he has at the place he calls home:)
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