Recently we took two horses to a local Festival as part of our outreach program. As you can imagine, there is a lot going on. We had the opportunity to walk Wiley and Stevie through the section that housed the carnival. For most horses, this would be total overload. The festival itself, muchness the carnival. We walked in past the games w rides eventually ending up at the Tilt-0-Whirl. It was large, spinning, blinking and making a whole lot of noise. A friend asked me, how do you do that? How do you take your horse to an event like that?
The short answer is, trust like that comes from some serious work. Imagine the canine that works with his handler, either law enforcement, or service dog, they get professional training w a handler and experience so much outside the realm of normal pet ownership, because they are working. I think Thoroughbreds, in particular, because they have been exposed to so much, and have a wonderful work ethic, combined with their innate curiosity and play drive, make them excellent candidates for this sort of activity.
When the horses arrive here, right from the very beginning they learn what behavior is appropriate. I think one thing that may be unusual here is that I am the primary caregiver, so that means handling and rules are consistent. That doesn’t mean that they are perfect or that I am perfect, simply that they know where they stand with me.
You hear a lot about herd behavior, the dominant mare, or the alpha male and how that translates into the need to be the boss of your horse. That you need ‘respect” You also hear that non of that is true and that is not in fact horse horses react to each other. What I look at is how the horses here interact with each other. And in fact, there is one horse, that has the ability to push everyone off the hay, off the water, directs when it is time to nap, and time to play . None of the other horses mess with him. And when that horse defers to me, or minds me about things, it seems to somehow resonate with the other horses.