Foal Education - Maserati's Kindergarten Time - Follow the Feel [Slideshow]
I would like to share with you a little exercise I find useful that horses are able to do. It is not an absolutely necessary skill but I noticed that it helps horses to think in claustrophobic situations rather than freaking out.
It shows them that there is another way out of tight situations than simply running forward or kicking. Maserati is just a baby but I know about the energy and sensitivity level of his mother - and the apple doesn’t fall far of the tree! So I rather like to already now, while he is so open and curious to learn, show him as many things as possible.
This story is also a good example that with good preparation even potentially difficult things become very easy.
Before I go to the actual exercise, I make sure he is not afraid of the rope swinging around him or touching him anywhere on his body. Here he clearly shows his sceptical face.
Maserati has a tendency to be ear shy and sensitive about touch around his head. This little exercise will help him to gain confidence in this area.
I kept swinging the rope a few times rhythmically over his head, at one point he licked - this means that he is done processing mentally.
And here is the proof: the happy school boy face is back!
Now I could swing the rope over his head and ears and he didn’t even move an ear.
That’s what I wanted to achieve, so I quit by gently laying the rope over his back - of course he is curious about it.
What else did you expect! Playing builds confidence
And of course we do everything also on the other side. Lots of horses are more sensitive/spooky on their right side - because we handle them so much more on the left. I check if he is confident with rope swinging and touching his back.
He is not completely confident - he is moving. That´s ok, he can walk, I don’t insist on him standing still, he will stand still out of himself when he feels ok with the rope.
I keep swinging the rope gently over his back until ….
He decided to stand still. Now I quit and rub - in the end there is nothing better than scratches!!
Last check: Swing and touch on the hind quarters: He did good so I can proceed to the actual exercise.
I carefully lifted the rope over his head and while I scratch him so he stands still I bring the rope further back.
All the way around his little hind quarters. Now I give a soft feel on the rope so that he feels something on his nose and on his left hind quarters. Attention: Some horses might feel extremely claustrophobic in this situation, because they feel restriction from both the front and the back!
He found the first part of the puzzle - follow the feel with his nose. But this position is surely still uncomfortable! Horses always seek to be comfortable, so all I have to do here is wait.
Here is starting to follow with is feet.
Such a smart boy! Maserati is doing great in thinking his way through and unwrapping himself.
Lets check the other side. As I put the rope around him, he is already following the feel of the rope.
He starts to follow with is feet. Attention if you have a horse who is very sensitive about touch on his right side - he might seriously get afraid and feel the need to defend himself. Always make sure to do the preparations and to stay safe!
He is perfectly following the feel - in a few years I will feel the benefit of this when starting by having easy direction.
Unwrap all the way - 360 degrees.
Good boy, Maserati! And of course there are always scratches in the end!
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