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Just came across an article in 'all horse' magazine. I have a few horses and ponies who comply nicely with what I ask of them. They seem to enjoy being around me and we have no issues that make excessive demands on either party.

I help out with other peoples horses if I can. I was asked 3 weeks ago to try and do something with a mare. She is in a field with 2, two year olds who have been handled and are fine. The mare has never been touched, just left in the field, she is 5. I spent a few hours just visiting, if she came to see me I'd offer her a stroke and be happy with that. Last week I took some brushes, let her sniff them and then started to brush her - she was loose as she's never been halter trained or had one on. She stood and enjoyed every minute of her grooming. I stoked her and left. She has never seen a brush before so I was happy that she was accepting the rate I was working at. The following day she was not as happy so after a stroke and a lean on the fence admiring the view I left her. The next day the hunt and hounds went through the field, that was 5 days ago and I haven't been able to get near her since. She appears to be fearful of my every move. We are in 10 acre field, but I'm used to loose working in larger areas.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Hello Barbara,

Lets see if I can offer a suggestion or two concerning your question:

When a horse views a group of horses, or is near a group of horses, that are galloping, their natural herd tendencies take over. As horses run in a group when being chased by a predator (they prefer to stand around and eat or rest), the proximity of a group of running horses would tend to make any horse in the vicinity fearful that there is a need to run with the group. So, your horse now exhibiting fear is a normal reaction to being around or near a group of running horses. The horse still feels there is something around to fear. You need to figure out a way to again get close to this horse. Perhaps by, from a safe distance for the horse, (with your body language) hold it in a corner of the field for a little while and then walk away. Do this as often as possible for a time. Gradually, most horses will come to feel safer and safer with the proximity of the human, if the human makes no seemingly aggressive moves. Over time, you should be able to get closer and closer to this horse (eventually being able to touch it again and halter it). You need to find a way to actually have some safe but active interaction with the horse to gain its trust. If it keeps moving away form you, this will not happen. This is why I suggest holding the horse in a corner with your body (keeping a very respectful and safe distance from the horse) and then walking away. The horse will eventually, and I do not know how long it might take, come to accept your proximity and begin to move back and forth, or side to side, walking in a small circle, as directed by your slow and soft body language movement. I hope you can picture this.

Your good leadership (based on trust) of this horse wil be established by your abilities to show up as the great, gentle, appropriate and compassionate leader. This is the way I deal with frightened and fearfully dangerous horses. There has to be more interaction than pleasant grooming or feeding. That may be pleasant but does not establish much of a relationship that has depth. There eventually has to be actual direction of movement involved (simple, easy, small, slow, one-step-at-a-time movement). If the interaction is too passive, not much will be accomplished really. It may be a pleasant experience for the horse and you, but as with human relationships, there has to be more than a pleasant, but rather passive interaction for a deeper relationship (trust) to be developed.

I hope I have offered some food for thought here. If you cannot picture what I am describing, tell me and I shall try to elaborate. Perhaps we will get to meet while I am here.

Sincerely, Franklin

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