Monday, November 7, 2011

Rubbing On A Horse

Melanie from Oregon sent in a question is "I rub my horse's face and put my face up against hers and just general loving on my horse. One of my friends said that is unsafe and detrimental to establishing dominance over your horse. I have looked around and don't see many people doing it. I am interested in your opinion."

Hey Melanie, first of all "dominance" is a tough word for me to use. I figure it's kinda hard to be dominant over an 1,000 pound animal. Maybe leadership of, partnership with, or mutual trust all may be better words.

Second of all I'm just as guilty as you in rubbing and loving my horses. I rode with some boys who would tease me sometimes,....."aren't you gonna kiss your horse before we get started",...that kinda thing. At my age I'm way past any peer pressure to act tough and all. I think the bottom line is how you and your horses relate to each other and what things you can accomplish together. It all comes out in the wash,...or as my Pa used to say "proof's in the pudding".

As long as you are careful not to get your horse's head coming up under your jaw, or having your horse disrespect your place, or any other unsafe things, I think that rubbing on, hugging, petting, brushing and grooming are all things that help gentle the horse.  Do so understanding the an 1,000 lb animal with a flight instinct can be dangerous.  

I came off a mountain patrol one afternoon, having parked my truck and trailer right off a little turn in, adjacent to the state highway. Some people saw me riding down and pulled over and before you knew it I had a crowd of people wanting to pet my horse and talk to me. My horse, pretty new at the time, was a little anxious but I knew he'd live through it with all those people crowding him and touching him and he would be better off for it. A few months later I had him at a Law Enforcement Expo and although I wasn't planning on it before I arrived, I allowed over 70 children to pet him, hug him and sit on him for pictures. So I think human touching helped gentle him quite a bit.

When I pick my corral and pens the horses follow me around wanting some human touching,...hell, I don't know it's it just reassurance for them,...or their trying to get me to hurry up so they can be fed, but I know they enjoy it. So you go right ahead and love on your horse. Be safe about it and I think your mare will be better off for it.

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