30 Days to Reconnect

I have been on a videotaping sabbatical due to family medical situations (not me) that demanded a lot of my time and attention. Things are back to normal and we are creating and writing and preparing to begin a slew of new video projects- I’m talking a few year’s worth of new videotaping! My horses have been on holiday for well over a year, and truth be told, almost 2 years. Of course, I tried to play with them here and there and have posted on it. They live as a herd and their herd bonds have continue to strengthen. I mention this last bit because when horses’ social needs are met by a herd, creating a connection and strengthening it can take a bit of time and a lot of creativity. When you, their human, is not as present, they may not “miss you” as much – and that’s a good thing, for them.

Before we begin videotaping, I need to spend some time reconnecting with my herd and with each individual horse. I took them out for some one-one-one play to see where they were at with our connection and communication. A few of the horses were obviously thrilled to be playing with me again, but seemed a bit rusty on some communication. Most of the horses reconnected with me… after about 30 minutes of “Who are you again?” But it definitely felt like the very strong connection between us had weakened just a bit over the almost 2 years a very spotty sessions together.

So, I decided to play a game, and that game was spend an hour with my herd every day doing nothing but petting and scratching them, and just standing near them, quietly. I decided to do this for 30 days to see how long it would for each horse to connect with me in a big way. So I began, it was really nice… and in 3 or 4 days, it felt like: “You’re back!!!” Every horse was coming over to me, hanging with me, following me around. It felt like a light switch went on… after a few weeks spending this kind of easy time with the herd, I began to play with each horse individually – several of them connected with me at Liberty as if no time had passed at all, and the rest of the horses connected with me after a bit of play. Very, very interesting and very satisfying.

What is the lesson in here? I don’t know about you, but many times, I’ve observed people bringing horses in from the field or from rehab or from a lengthy time off, only to have the horse thrown back into training in a hard and stressful way. It does not respect the horse’s mental and emotional contribution to the relationship. Take some time reconnecting with your equine partner and when they let you know that they are acknowledging your value and they show you that they are interested in being with you and getting with you- THEN begin sessions where you ask your horse to be mentally and physically engaged. Of course, all of my ideas about teaching and training, which would follow, are significantly different than the norm… but that’s for another post altogether.

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