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Building a Relationship with Your Horse

So, you want to have a relationship with your horse. You say, “I just want to go the pasture and have him come to me”, or “I want him to be happy to see me”. And you think “well all I have to do is give lots of love and treats and he will do what I ask,” Right? Wrong!

Your equine friend may only see you as its personal chef. Sure you have established who the caretaker is, your horse makes sure of that, but have you built a true relationship? A relationship built on respect?

Respect is a word humans use but do we really understand what it means and how to give it? My favorite phrase these days is, “Respect given is Respect earned.”

I believe this to be true in all our daily communications with each other. It is no different in the communication with our equine partner. As a matter of fact, it is a key component to building an equine partnership.

Horses communicate through their body language. When greeting each other, they blow nostril to nostril with no eye contact.

In that moment, a hierarchy is being created. In other words, horsy respect! But in an equine’s world, respect is demonstrated by dominance. One does not move up the hierarchy, unless one can show who is more dominate.

So, although there was a greeting, a nip may occur, a stomp of the foot and/or a squeal. It is in these actions that respect is being built.

Now, I don’t recommend you go running up to a horse and start blowing into its nostril, unless you are experienced and you truly understand what is going on at that moment. However, there really is a way for us to communicate dominance, respectfully.

Take the opportunity to observe horses together. Watch their body language. See if you can determine who may be the dominate one and what he/she does to demonstrate their dominance.

Enjoy the time spent with your partner, no matter the species. They are our best teachers.

MAURETTE HANSON