The Power of Saying Hello as a Lead Mare

Hello. Today I have a story for you about the power of patience, persistence and also respect, which I hope you will find very revealing. I was once asked to work with a well-bred warm blood mare who was extremely dangerous to be around. She would charge open-mouthed, intending to bite hard, at whoever came into her space.

She was in her stall-sized pipe corral when I arrived. I spent some time nearby and then approached her to say hello. The mare charged at me, fully intending to bite. I jumped back out of her reach and personal space and waited for her to process what had just happened.

After she settled down, I approached her again. Again the mare charged at me, prepared to bite. Again I retreated, and waited for her to settle.

We repeated this sequence what felt like 50 or 60 times ... so many that I lost count. Again I began my approach, and this time the mare let me come right up to her. She breathed on my outstretched hand and allowed me to gently stroke her face. After that, she never again attempted to charge and bite anyone.

This story illustrates the power of saying hello as a lead horse does. What this mare needed was to feel that she had some control over her personal space. She needed to feel that she could say "no" to a person's overtures and have that "no" respected rather than punished. I gave her many opportunities to say "no" that day ... as many as she needed. When she was satisfied that her "no" would be respected, she was able to say "yes" to my greeting.

Do you have any stories about connecting with a new horse you would like to share with us?