Today's post is in response to a letter I received recently from someone:
I am also incredibly excited about the reformation. It has been a question of mine for a long while, as to how can one influence herd behavior.
Actually, Joost helped me come up with the plan. He too is using the Waterhole Rituals to influence with all of the horses he works with.
He has a 2 year old filly in training who bites everything she can reach.
Last week while grooming her he stuffed a cookie in her mouth when she reached for his elbow.
Well! That totally interrupted the deal and then he asked her for several steps back.
She was very different all morning.
Thinking things through in this way is becoming 2nd nature, and we are doing everything possible to coax that along.
I do have something to report back to you about our mustang, Geronimo.
We have been doing the intimacy exercises with him for about 4 weeks. He can now eat out of a bucket, keeping his head inside the whole time, which is a huge improvement.
His normal behavior is to grab a mouthful and then move away in order to chew it. So I have not yet asked him to lift his head during the ceremony, because I think he will run for the hills.
We were able though, to catch him pretty easily! and then put him in with the rest of the herd.
Now that he is there, he is actually approaching me by himself. He still will not stick around to be touched though.
How should we proceed from here?
Thanks so much for your coaching and also for the new exercise- I will try it asap.
Bravo! The connection is unfolding as you are working with what the environment offers and finding the opportunities when they arise to create more trust and respect. The next step is to continue this without adding anything to this Intimacy Exercise. Another different exercise to do with him would be Leading from Behind™. Follow him around from a distance that is comfortable to him. When he stops, walk away, and when he begins walking- go back to following him. Do this for a couple of days. Then add this to the exercise: when he stops, you stop- and do not move away. This will put you in a closer connection. You then can practice the “Hello” Ritual. If he walks way, you walk away. You want him to learn that you will never trap him. This would be a good time to sit down with food and wait for him to do the intimacy game. You can also add the Eye Contact Ritual which will build his trust and ego by learning that just a look will keep him in charge of the food source.
When I am dealing with wild horses in nature, and I prove to a horse that I will always respect his feelings and never take away his freedom, he becomes curious and wants friendship especially when Leading from Behind is shared. This is an example of what I call reciprocal movements. You could also put food on the ground in many spots, and sometimes move him away from the food, and sometimes let him see that you will move out of his space. This is one of the activities that anyone can witness in most any herd. If you balance the exchange of leadership between you in the right way you can develop a true bond.
Erica, just remember not to get into a hurry. Many times I am happy to do nothing more than to allow evolution to bring the bond without adding things to force the bond. When you sit with him, do not try to touch him. If he touches you, let him and do not respond. We would like to make him a proper nuisance. This is how horses build trust. This is how horses form friendships and create harmony and unity with one another.
Erica, it is good to hear from you! I hope this is of help. If you need more guidance, call me directly.
If any bloggers have any questions, I will pick a few and answer you.
Remember it is weekend time! Watch out for new horse and human sightings!
May the horse be with you!