Bond With Your Horse
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Querida is a 3 year old Connemara. Pascale bought her in August 2006 but didn't feel comfortable handling her back legs as she would snatch them away and kick out if you tried to lift them. She also was very unsettled about being touched on her belly particularly between her back legs once again kicking out if you touched her in this area. Due to these reactions she hadn't had her back feet trimmed.
Jo worked with Querida in January 2007. She undertook 3 sessions with Querida. Jo began by establishing trust and creating a bond. She then desensitised Querida to being touched on her legs and belly, starting with the false hand and moving on to the 'scary' plastic bag, before touching her with her own hand.
By beginning by working with the false hand this allows Jo to remain relaxed (as the danger of being kicked is reduced) and this 'air of calm' is transmitted to the horse thus reducing the horse's stress level. In addition no matter how much the horse kicks out the 'hand' remains there and only when the horse stops kicking is the hand taken away....the horse very quickly learns to train the hand to go away by standing still and not kicking....exactly the goal we want to achieve.
Jo then moved on to asking Querida to lift her back legs very slightly off the ground for a very short time, building up until she was happy to have her legs comfortably held for longer periods and to have her feet picked out. She used exercises to rotate her back legs to help Querida relax out any tension and to help improve her balance. Finally Jo worked with both a hoof knife and rasp to desensitise Querida to being touched by these items and to the sound that they make on her hooves.
The leg handling was then repeated by several different people to ensure that Querida was happy to be handled by a variety of people including those that she had never met before.
Pascale is now doing lots of short sessions of leg handling until Querida is so at ease with the process that she can't remember what all the fuss was about.