• How to Approach a Horse

Posted by: kidhelper on Monday, July 2nd, 2012

How to Approach A Horse

We took 50 kids to a Horse Ranch for a weekend camping experience. The attraction and novelty was the horses, but there were many other farm animals there. Each kid had an animal to care for, for the entire week.

Of course, these city kids, who would hardly lift a finger to do chores at home, fell right in-line with enthusiasm and excitement about caring for animals, but especially the horses.

These were the teachable moments, for sure. So the Camp Wrangler went to great pains to demonstrate some of the proper technique, including how feed, groom, bridle and even how to “muck” the stalls, which they loved!

However, one especially insightful teaching included how to approach a horse. You stand a good safe distance away, with a carrot in your hand. Put the carrot in your outstretched hand, and wait. Notice that the horse will look at the carrot, then look at you and then back to the carrot. Then you can take one-step towards the horse without moving your outstretched hand. Watch the horses eyes, it will repeat looking at the carrot, then you, then back to the carrot. Take another step. You continue this tentative advancement, until you are standing next to the horse. Offer the carrot, which he will eat out of your hand.

You have successfully approached the horse. You do not rush up the horse, the horse will be startled and move back. Further, do not raise the carrot above your head in a threatening manner. You will likely get the same startled response.

This is same approach you would use in approaching a human baby. At some safe distance back, extend both arms out with hands open. Even the most timid child will look at your hands, then your eyes and then back to your hands. At that point take another step forward, stop, repeat with extended hands and watch for the eyes to repeat looking at your hands, then your eyes, then your hands. Repeat this until the child comes into your arms.

I have experimented with this holding my arms out with hands extended and in a welcoming posture and the child will eventually come to me, assuming they are old enough to move towards you. Move slowly! Allow time for the eye contact process to be completed. It gives you implied permission to move or advance. Children just like horses get all their safety cues with their eyes.

Rushing up to children and horses does not work for a welcoming posture. Swooping in on children is a way for children to feel unsafe with us. Once this is done, the child remembers. Establish eye contact and wait for the signals. If the signals are not forthcoming, you must wait longer. If your eyes are covered or bloodshot or if you have been crying, do avoid this procedure. It will not work.

I have learned a few lessons from experimenting with this idea. I am slow to greet my grand kids, until either they rush to greet me, or I slowly move towards them allowing them some time to adjust to my presence. I think the secret is to slow down, establish eye contact and advance slowly towards hugs and greetings. Do not force yourself on children, or none of this will work.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Leave a Comment