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More herdbound behavior

Hello Franklin, I am writing to you from Australia.

I have just read an article about a girl who always rode in an arena, and she rode her horse out with a group of friends the horse was not happy and the girl came off.

I am in a similar situation. I have just purchased a new horse. She is so quiet very easy to handle in every way on the ground and in the paddock. I cannot fault her, she is a dream. She is still trying to settle in to her new home and I realize that. She has been here for 7-days now. I have another horse in the same paddock as company.

I saddled her up to ride her out of the property. she was fine in the paddock, but as soon as I walked her out she became very anxious and nervous. I kept leading her up the quiet dirt road but she did not settle down at all. On returning to the paddock she went back to her calm self. In your article you mentioned ground play, can you describe what you mean exactly,or do you have a book or dvd on these procedures? I believe this is what is needed to bond with her. I have started leading her little by little down the road she was a little better today I would love some insight into this situation. Love to here back from you.

Regards Jenny H

Hi Jenny, I am emailing you from Athens, Greece

You are experiencing 'herd bound' behavior from your horse. This is a very common situation. Horses are very social and get attached to their herd mates as this is, in part, how they feel they can be safe and survive (safety in numbers and safety near the herd leader). It is a normal part of their survival mechanism and survival behavior. To assist this situation to get better you can do several things. One is to dance/play with your horse on the ground a lot. All movement, even the simplest of a few steps or even one step; forward, back, stop and turn, can be asked for appropriately, quietly and consciously so that the horse tries to comply and is then immediately rewarded for its good effort with a total release of any input from the human and total peace for a few moments. Mostly we humans never recognize the horse trying. We expect too much too quickly. Even a horse leaning where we want it to go is actually the horse trying. If this sort of request for movement is done often, quietly and with successful outcomes, the horse will begin to perform the movements fluidly, smoothly, quietly and yet responsively (equals play/dance between horse and human). What happens is the horse begins to trust the human more and more through this winning cycle of requested movement, effort provided by the horse and immediate reward of peace provided by the human leader. It will then begin to bond strongly with the human and accept that human as its good leader who can and does control the spatial aspects of what they do and all movement (part of what the lead mare does with the wild horse herd). All of my DVDs show elements and techniques of ground play/dance with horses. The Horse Whisperer In Greece (2-disk DVD set) has nearly 3 hours of information and techniques, is the most comprehensive DVD I offer and, I would say, is the best value for the money.

Sincerely, Franklin

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