Bond With Your Horse
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Jo held an Open Day of her techniques in September 2006. She demonstrated the techniques using her husband's horse Jimmy before going on to use them with Lutin, a young Haflinger who was terrified of rugs.
"To begin with, we saw Jo work with her horse Jimmy in the Round Pen to demonstrate how to form a close bond of trust and respect with a horse. Jo demonstrated some de-sensitising exercises with simple but “scary” objects – plastic bags and a swirly, snake-on-a-stick – and even a hula hoop. Of course, Jimmy trusted that Jo wouldn’t hurt him, so let her touch him all over with these spooky things.
Jo then took Jimmy to the arena to tackle the “obstacle course” and showed the kind of connection that had just been created and the extent of trust that a horse can have in a human: Jimmy followed Jo over tarpaulin, through a traffic-cone slalom and through two scary curtains (above). Having traversed the wooden bridge and reserved into the confined space, Jimmy finished by mounting the pedestal and showing off to the crowd. Not content with that, Jo and Jimmy did the same course – this time without the lead-rope! And having done all that, Jimmy simply showed off by proceeding to the awaiting trailer and loading all by himself – to the delight of the audience.
Having dried off and warmed up, we then went outdoors again (still raining…) where Jo worked in the round pen with Lutin, Diana’s 6-year-old Haflinger. Diana explained that Lutin had a fear of rugs, especially his big, heavy winter rug which Diana showed us – Lutin’s ears were pinned back and his muscles were tensed as Diana tentatively slipped the rug onto his back. He clearly had a problem here…
This time, Jo’s aim was to de-sensitise Lutin and have him accept the rug without any difficulty. Starting with the plastic bags, then the twirly snakes-on-a-stick, she worked until Lutin was comfortable and unflinching when she approached him with these unfamiliar, scary things.
Then Lutin was ready to start with the rugs themselves, and we began with a lightweight sweat rug, just touching him with it and retreating – rewarding him for not reacting. Before long, Lutin trusted us enough to allow the sweat rug to be thrown onto his back from a distance and then to be extended to cover him fully. So then it was time for that heavy, winter rug again…. (which was now even heavier, with the rain!)
Again, we started slow, just touching him with the rug and retreating. But by now Lutin trusted Jo enough that he hardly reacted at all, and in a short space of time, we had the rug on his back. We then tested the boundaries of his comfort zone by gradually throwing the rug over him with more “gusto” – Lutin was clearly so much more relaxed, and didn’t even flinch when that heavy rug and its straps were put on his back and pulled up around his withers.
After experiencing this first-hand, Lutin’s owner Diana said: “I cannot emphasise enough, the difference Jo has made to Lutin’s and my life together, and urge anyone with even a small problem not to cope alone, but to seek this sort of help.”