Encouraging Horses To The Next Level

Recently we did some filming with wild horses at Return to Freedom, a nonprofit wild horse sanctuary near Lompoc, California. I was there working with a horse that was very shy. We were doing this filming because I wanted to show a horse that was really afraid of humans, and this particular horse was definitely scared to death of people.

I don’t know what his history was but despite whatever had happened to him, I was able to get him comfortable enough to eat out of a bucket that I was holding. However he was still very frightened because he was grabbing a mouthful and then jumping back, almost knocking the bucket out of my hand. As I said, he was just really very, very frightened and he was going something else, too. When he was eating out of the bucket, he liked to hit the bottom of it with his teeth, as if he was trying to grab the food or bite at it rather than just eat it. When a horse does this, I will take the bucket away from him and then give back, so that he realizes that every time he bites the bottom of the bucket, it goes away. He learns that he has to be more gentle. He is doing this, of course, because he is scared. After I did this for a while, he became more comfortable, so then I wanted to get him to take it to the next level. {sidebar id=8} Now, we cannot just expect a horse just to take himself to the next level; we have to encourage him. So, the next thing I did was to touch the end of his nose with my hand before I allowed him to go in the bucket and eat. The reason a horse will let you do this is because when he is nursing as a baby, his nose touches the top of the mother’s belly. So when you do this, not only are you bringing him forward to the next level but I believe you are actually hitting neural pathways in the horse’s brain to make him feel nurtured. From there, you can really develop a close relationship. That is the sort of work I do with shy horses. To learn more about Carolyn, her lifelong relationship with the horses and her quest to find the ideal communication method between man and horse, visit Carolyn Resnick's site and read her book Naked Liberty published in English and German (Tochter Der Mustangs – Daughter of the Mustangs). View more Path Of The Horse articles. Follow us on Facebook.