1st Day of Christmas
Today is the first day of Harmonious Horsemanship's 12 Days of Christmas! When Breeze, Caesar and I did our recent Christmas photo shoot I was reminded how such activities can be a great way to desensitize our horses. When we bring the energy of fun to a topic such as desensitization our horse are more likely to relax and realize new doesn't necessarily mean scary.
A horse's natural instinct is to run first and then ask questions later. If you've ever watched a herd of horse with a new object in their field you've probably noticed how they give the object distance, get closer, then spook and move away, then approach again and so on. Their instincts have taught them to flee from an unknown object and only when their at a safe distance to stop, turn and reassess. If they decided it's safe they will head back towards the object. If at any time they are unsure they once again create space from the object. This gives them time and space to think and assess the situation. Horses are naturally curious so, more often than not, when left to their own devices they will eventually go up to the object and explore.
When we introduce them to new objects in the spirit of fun we are more relaxed. This in turn creates a relaxed atmosphere for them to explore in. Over time our horses begin to see new things as an opportunity to engage their curiosity and connect with us. These two pictures are a great example of that. In the first picture we can see Bliss, a young pony, is still uncertain about the Santa hat on her head. She realizes it's not hurting her but is uncertain about something new. If she keeps getting exposed to new things in a fun and relaxed way she may end up like Breeze, the white pony, in the second photo. Breeze actually interrupted Caesar's photo shoot to join in. We put a Santa hat on her and she stayed with us for pictures even though she had the freedom to leave of shake the hat off.