Morning Star and the reed
Hi. When Sharing Space, the first quality of connection you would hope to have with your horse would be gentle and kind with a feeling of friendship. Where safety would never be a concern for the human or horse, without the worry about being pushed around, and mauled. Most yearning colts go though a period that is a little intimidating for their owners and this is what was occurring with Morning Star. Shaping a relationship and connection with a foal can be a tricky business because things can go wrong, like getting the foal angry which can lead to more aggressiveness. Also he could decide that he does not like people or he could get defensive and flighty making him harder to deal with. You cannot just reprimand a foal for doing something that you feel is dangerous and aggressive because the foal does not understand that he has done anything wrong since he does not yet have the ability to distinguish between right or wrong. From the foals’ perspective, he thinks that you, his friend, has turned on him.
So how did I approach my problem with Morning Star? When he was occupied at the far end of his pen, which is 80x40, I was able to get into his pen with out being mauled. My plan was to use the reed. To shish the reed in front of me when he approached, which would cause him to stay away because horses will usually shy away from something in your hand, when you act like you mean business. Initially, Morning Star came up to me and pushed right into me ignoring the reed so I took off my jacket and waved it at him in protest. He took off running. He respected the jacket but not the reed. I teach my foals at a young age to respect my personal space as foals at a younger age are more easily directed. . After I had taught him not to bite the jacket and not to bite me, which was explained in my Tuesday blog, I began teaching Morning Star the way I wanted him to respect the reed. I showed him the reed by waving it around his body only when I wanted him to move away from me if he got too aggressive. When he did not respond I used the jacket. He learned that the best way to behave was to move away from the reed because it was a precursor to the jacket that frightened him.
In one session he had learned to be very sensitive to the reed without the need for the jacket. It is important to teach this as quickly as possible because if your take you time you could desensitize him to the whole process and you could have a more aggressive colt. When he did not try to push and bite and threatened to kick me whilst we were Sharing Space he got a treat. If he was not kind, I made him leave. It was an easy choice for him to make.
Morning Star is still a little bit pushy and a little bit timid but every day he gets a lot better and he is happy to see me. He comes racing up to me when I come to work with him.
If you have any questions on this please comment below. Enjoy your weekend
P.S. Mark asked me to remind you that you can easily tell your friends about the blog by using the ShareThis link just below. He says you can email from there, send a message to a cell phone and also bookmark it (?) or something like that. Anyway, give it a go and see what happens.