Recently a few people have asked me how to get the focus of a horse in a herd. It’s awesome that your horse has the opportunity to live in a herd! Keep that up. But your path to BFF’s is challenging. Your horse doesn’t seem to need you for companionship. Or do they?
Your task is to become more attractive than the group. More awesome. More wonderful. More rewarding and a better leader and companion.
It’s like high school all over again. It’s time to fit in and integrate, but set yourself apart from the crowd too. You can’t do this with the the right hair or jeans. Your horse doesn’t care about your new highlights (though they do like the smell of fruity shampoo). Your horse cares about your energy. The number one way to stand out in your horsey crowd is to work on yourself.
Meditate. Get present. Admire those trees and that bird. Hang out in the herd. Do horsey things. If you have no idea how to do this, just watch everyone else. They have this nailed. Doze. Dig. Pull weeds. Move everyone around one at a time in and out of their favourite spots and off and to their food. Greet everyone. Provide scratches if they are welcomed. Spontaneously run around and hop. Stare at the neighbours.
Then your task is to become the most rewarding. When a horse visits with you show her that carrot you hid under a rock, scratch her on that itchy spot.
It’s also a good idea to work the group together sometimes. If your horse wants to party with friends, then bring some! This makes the training area more comfortable and more fun for your horse. I don’t promise your horse will be more attentive with buddies there, but it’s just a way to make the training area more fun while you build your bond. That is what the attached video demonstrates.
When you interact alone with your chosen horse make it super fun and easy. Find whatever he loves and give it out like it’s My Favourite things day on Oprah. He might just like staring back at his friends. So go stare together. Dole out food like it’s Christmas. Let him roll in that sandy spot. Investigate weird objects together. Play games that your horse loves. You will know these games by what your horse naturally does in the paddock without you.
Take him back to his herd ASAP. Maybe your session is only five minutes. You have your whole lives together. Isn’t it worth the time now to be that awesome teacher that lets your student out early? You can build on that. It’s better to have early dismissal and a happy horse and than have a cranky student who sees you as an interruption in his banner day.
You want your horse to get to the point where he is asking if he can stay with you. My mare, Extra has actually got to the point where I have to push her out of the ring. She has been known to try to gallop back in before I shut the gate.
So go forth and win that pony popularity contest and report back as to how it goes for you!