While being with a horse is immensely rewarding, we should never lose sight of the fact that we are in the presence of a 1000 lb prey animal who can move in a millisecond to run, kick, bite, or anything else it needs to do to get away from what it perceives as danger. This does not mean we should be afraid of our horse when we are with it. It does mean, though, that we should respect it. Learning to observe basic safe handling practices will create the conditions where our horse feels safe around us. It will trust us, respect our leadership, and will find comfort in our presence.
By the end of this session you will understand the importance of, and have had an opportunity to practice:
- safe horse handling principles
Principles to Be Practiced
- safety first – for you and the horse
- present moment awareness
- “Wheel of Awareness” – mindfulness practice to become aware of horse, self and environment
- assess the herd
- approach and halter a horse
- lead it away from the herd
- groom the horse
- park the horse
- Setting boundaries – practice creating and maintaining personal space using a carrot stick
Questions to Consider
- What does a horse need to feel safe?
- Can you envision situations where you could be hurt by a horse when handling it on the ground? What could you do ahead of time to prevent these situations from arising? To mitigate risk if they do happen?
- What are the three main things you need to be mindful (aware) of when working with a horse?
- Is punishment an effective form of discipline for horses?