Exploring teamwork with Jeep and Lucky, the horses
October 27, 2015
Lucky (left) and Jeep
Well, as you may have gathered from my posts, I have been exploring working with horses as thinking, conscious feeling beings with opinions of their own, and the right to say no. This has been an interesting journey, that started with childhood dreams after watching The Black Stallion, and grew when I had my first experiences actually “hearing” the horses, and having them listen to me.
I’ve been pretty busy these last couple months with goat shows and clinics and my mom’s 80th birthday. Tonight was my first chance in a while to just hang out with the horses and catch up on some hoof trimming.
I usually trim with the horses loose in the square pen ( we don’t do round pens, which is a story for another day). I worked on Lucky’s front hooves while Jeep his roommate hung out in the same pen to watch and also spend time with his person Cody. Jeep was very curious about what I was doing, hanging over my shoulder and watching closely.
When I was done trimming, I just stood with Lucky and asked what he felt like doing. I got a very clear sense that he wanted to play a bit at liberty, and wanted Jeep to join us. I checked in with Cody, and he was getting that same sense from Jeep. OKaaayyyyy, I think we can do this. Hmm…
I asked Lucky to pick a direction and walk, using body language and picturing what I was asking for. Lucky pushed Jeep ahead of him and started circling, then passed Jeep and Jeep followed along. Just a couple circles and clearly Lucky wanted to do something more. He picked up a jog. I agreed and added my body language for jogging and off we went, Lucky leading and Jeep following. What happened next was the truly fun part. When I stopped circling and asked for a stop, Jeep rushed over to me and touched me with his nose, then Lucky came over. This had clearly turned into a version of musical chairs, with the game being which horse would see the stop cue first and get back over to touch me.
We did several rounds of this, with Jeep beating Lucky every time. He even anticipated a couple times (or maybe I gave a cue I wasn’t aware of) When I had the sense they were done, I just sat down on my heels and they both came over to hang out. Jeep was very curious and nuzzled me and wanted to share breath.
[side note: sharing breath is almost a meditation. Nose to nose, we breath together, me in and the horse out, then the other way around, sharing breath. It is an act of trust, and really forms a connection]
Tonight was the first time I got a clear sense that one horse wanted to work with me with another horse, and it was pretty amazing. I’m really excited to see what the 3 of us come up with next.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or American Veterinary Medical Association, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian about any changes to your animal’s health program.