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  • butchdunlop

We Get in the Way

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

We have a new horse on our property. I love watching new horses when they arrive. Observing how they interact with their new herd and their new surroundings. This horse is particularly fun to watch because he is a mustang and drop dead gorgeous.

Our weather has been less than perfect. When I think of January, I think of beautiful snow and sunny days where the sun glistens on the snowy trees. Isn't that beautiful!

This winter has not been beautiful. It has been rainy and gloomy and muddy and icky. The pasture that the new horse is in is quite muddy where I normally feed them. Today I brought their hay up to north part of their area where it is less muddy. There was a large piece of plastic lying on the outside of the fence. I picked it up and put it on the trailer and observed the new horse.

He instantly put his head up, his body tighten and he tucked his butt. How often have you been on a horse with this exact posture? I know I have and it is not fun. You are suddenly on a 1000 pound rocket deciding if it should blow or not.

As I rearranged the plastic so it wouldn't fall of the trailer, he turned and trotted a few steps away, stopped, looked again, lowered his head and walked back over to the hay pile. He still had his ears and eyes perked on the plastic but had decided it was safe to come back and eat.

What I found so interesting was what the outcome would have been if a human was on him. It is not fun being on a horse when you are not sure what their next step is going to be. In this scenario, I wondered if a human would have tensed in their body, put more tension on the bit and caused a much bigger reaction. Horses are flight animals. They will fight if they need too but their first line of defense is often flight.

If a human was on this horse, got tense and nervous, I could see how a horse would have blown. How often do you observe a horse in this situation start to buck because the human is holding him tight?

It sounds like the earth is coming undone when the snow falls off the roof of an arena. I had the horses in one winter and they were loose is the arena when this happened. Mine just lifted her head and stood. The next time the snow came down I was riding. She had the same response. I started to tense as an automatic response and than remembered that all she did was lifted her head when I wasn't on her. I immediately relaxed knowing her response and it was the same as on the ground.

There are many way to work through a spook. For this blog post, I want you to just become aware. Become aware of how your horse normally responds to situations without you. Knowing your horse gives you the reward of being prepared.

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