Eye Contact Solution
Little Known Precursors to Aggressive Behavior in Fearful Horses, and How to Deal with Them. I was watching Animal Planet with Victory Stilwell. She mentioned something about a little known fact about dog behavior. I thought I heard her say that a dog that will roll over on his back as a submission gesture in the future will surely bite you.
I started thinking of the things that most horse professionals do not know about horses. One of them is if a horse tries to look at you with only one eye with a stiffness in his body, he does not trust you. It is a fearful as well as an aggressive stance, and it comes with strong threat in the future to the person the horse responds to in this way.
The horse that will look at you with one eye or will switch his head around back and forth looking at you from one eye to the other may follow this behavior with biting, charging, kicking or striking at a later time, when you might least expect it.
Years ago, I had to clean out stalls as an every day chore when I was apprenticing with Gladys Foster, a top Western Pleasure trainer and competitor. When I would go to clean her top mare Chubs Melody’s stall, she would look at me with one eye. I always respected that, and would take her from her stall and then clean it, because I did not feel safe sharing a stall with her. Gladys would be annoyed that I would take the extra time it would take to more her. I told her of my feelings and she thought I was being too cautious. The mare never did anything aggressive while I was there, but, one day, she did attack Gladys in her stall, and hurt her badly.
So, what to do to avoid this happening, and how to create a better attitude with a horse that is feeling “on the muscle”?
After I have developed more trust and likeability through Sharing Territory as well as practicing the Saying Hello Ritual, I then practice Leading from Behind, and then the horse is ready for the Eye Contact Ritual. This Ritual is what fixes the problem.
Remember: practice the Rituals like you would yoga exercises. This way, you can relax and put all of yourself into your efforts, and not be in a hurry, nor drill or force. Force can be created by moving too quickly in your communication with your horse. My method is relationship-based, so, by practicing the Rituals, you leave plenty of time for the horse to figure out what it is that you are wanting. This allows the natural evolution of the bond to catch up to the horse’s emotions and to weld the bond between you.
Insider Circle and In-a-Box students: I would like to point out to you that I have answered the last questions remaining on the Insider Circle section of the blog. The questions and the Youtube videos are still available for you to browse. Your future questions, however, should be submitted in the regular blog. From the answers that I have given, the class is now officially closed for my coaching, but you can always write to me on the blog. As usual, I will answer some of the questions that I read.
Again, the weekend is coming, and we are, again, watching out for New Horse and New Human sightings! One of my students took a large metal tub, turned it upside down and uses it as a place to rest inside her horse’s paddock. That was a New Human sighting on our ranch!
Have a wonderful weekend,