Imagine that we couldn't speak and the only way to communicate would be through our body language. Our feet hurt in the shoes we are wearing, would we start to move more slowly?
Our back hurts and we have to carry a heavy rucksack, would we try to take it off or move away from it if someone tried to put it on our back? Our jaw aches from pressure of something in our mouth, would we try to avoid that pressure. Our neck hurts when we turn to the right, would we be better at turning to the left?
Being a leader for our horse and I purposely do not use the word dominate, allows us to form a strong connection where they can feel safe and relaxed knowing that their needs are taken care of. Not our needs.....their needs!
Observing their body language is key to knowing if they are testing our leadership (which they will all the time - it is their survival instinct) or they are in pain.
A few examples of testing our leadership:
• Moving into our space
• Nudging us with their head so that we move our feet
• Being aggressive around food
• Walking in front of us when being walked on a lead rope Examples of your horse being in pain:
• Turning their head and body away when putting on a saddle or bridle.
• Asymmetry of the body. Uneven muscle tone.
• One hip moving higher than the other, one scapular higher than the other.
• Moving better on one lead or turning better on one side.
• Resting the same leg, not wanting to pick up a leg but happy to pick up the others.
• Reluctance to work - your horse is trying to communicate.....you only have to listen.
TIME is what the horse needs most and your patience is the most precious gift you can give.