Horsey Therapist

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Attention

I've been thinking a lot lately about getting, keeping, having the attention of the horse I'm handling. I'm trying to ask for it more but stay as quiet and minimalist as possible, not revert to a demanding attitude.

I found a few interesting quotes in True Horsemanship Through Feel(by Bill Dorrance and Leslie Desmond) about 'attention'. Both these I've quoted below come from sections discussing leading -- a real basic activity that reflects so much of what is going on with the horse and human.

Pg. 97: "What I mean by 'leading up real free' is a horse paying attention to the feel of your halter rope, or your reins, and following the feel you present by livening up his whole body. The important part in this is that he's ready to move his feet, and will move them, before the float is ever taken out of the rope. And he'll do this without any confusion, and he won't be trying to take over with ideas of his own. No, it would only be in response to your feel to move that he'll lead up with a float in the rope and look for a place to go."

Pg. 122: "When just one step can be taken, he's waiting for you. Then you have his attention and that's one of our main goals -- to get the horse's attention and keep it focussed on what we want him to do."

Lately I've been experimenting more than usual, with getting and keeping my horses' attention at liberty. I want to know for sure that the connection through halter and lead, or through reins, is based on willingness not confinement. I know how responsive my horses can be with tack connecting us. I'm learning how responsive they are without that, with only their attention, curiosity, willingness, and understanding keeping them with me mentally and physically. I'm pleased so far with what I'm finding.

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