Playing with herd Dynamics: Part 2

In my last Blog, I started talking about these 3 horses that I had currently in training at Ohana Farm. There is a Spotted Draft Gelding, A young Gaited Mare and a Young Arabian Mare.

As I mentioned before, I found this particular herd fascinating because there were so many interesting layers to each horses’ story. The two mares were rescues from the Nurse mare foal industry. This in itself was a huge piece of what shaped the two girls behavior and coping mechanisms. What I found interesting was how the two mares with the same traumatic circumstances coped very differently. And developed very differently. I mentioned that both these young mares had a propensity for kicking and it made them unsafe and a bit unpredictable to be around.

As I studied and spent time with these horses in their field, I began to peel away the layers that I needed to reveal to know what is the best direction with each individual horse. I found the two mares to be gregarious but also needing to develop focus, and willingness to engage in a working relationship which is required prior to mounted training. I found the Draft horse to be a bit backed off people, somewhat anxious at times for various reasons and also having some physical issues which needed a physio approach. My job in the Liberty foundation phase with any horse is to 1. Observe the horses character closely 2. Build a relationship with the horse ( my role with the horse can take many forms, it is in essence, whatever the horse needs me to be) 3. Figure out how to start introducing training concepts in a fun, organic way based on what is going on in the moment. 4. Start designing a curriculum based on the horses’ character and developmental stage.

I take great pleasure in getting know each horses’ unique character. It is quite fascinating. Horses reveal so much to you if you are only willing to listen carefully. At Ohana farm, I have been so much fun exploring all the Equines, Felines, and Canines and even some of the wild life we share our farm with.

When you work with a herd, it is fun to see who volunteers, who is shy and who is playful etc. I have had the opportunity to work with herds of up to eight horses. This takes a solid knowledge of the herd and some very good safety practices but once it is established it gives you insight to social behavior and rituals seldom seen. The other thing is, each herd is so unique in their interactions. I have seen chemistry shift each time we add or subtract horses from the property.

As this small herd unfolded and continues to unfold. I found each horse trusting me more and more layers showing themselves. Once I made space for Willow, (the gaited mare) to come forward in the herd, she enthusiastically met me for “school”. I found Charlotte to be more resentful of certain requests if she couldn’t control and monopolize the conversation completely on her terms. Kyrie, the draft horse, Is opening up slowly to his physical therapy work and is becoming stronger and more trusting of his training experience through positive, short sessions. He spent much time with many hoof problems and health issues over the years and is finally enjoying a more sound and healthy body and mind. His spirit is coming back and is a joy to watch and behold!

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Playing with herd Dynamics: Part 2

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