“…we get an education by listening to our horses, and we get an experience when we don’t.” –Mark Rashid
As some of you know, I recently attended a “trick”training workshop at Imagine a Horse, a program located at Red Horse Ranch, outside of Dripping Springs, Texas. Some people asked me why I wanted to teach my horse tricks? Was I going on the road with a bunch of trick horses? Join the circus?
Although both of those are interesting ideas…
I wasn’t really sure why, except I knew I wanted to have better commnuication with my big equine buddies. I viewed the tricks as an opportunity to bond with my horses a bit deeper than I had so far. Minnow and I have been practicing “The Smile” which is him popping his lip up and down, showing his teeth while asking for a treat.
We have started the “Obeisance” which is both front legs extended and his head bowed down between his legs. It looks like yoga for horses and I’m sure feels good to him and is a wonderful stretch.
But the one thing, and probably the easiest and most rewarding so far, was this morning when I walked out to the pasture where Minnow stood with two of his friends, Spur and Emory. I called his name and waved my hand. His head came up and he walked over to me, I guess it was about 50 feet…and nudged me in the stomach.
I know he was asking for a treat but I was so happy he came to his name. I have trained the other horses to do the same and neither of them came. Whether he knows his name or not…this moment felt like he wanted to be with me. Call me silly…if this is the only thing I got out of those four days in the workshop, I’m thrilled. Teaching your horse to do other things besides being ridden means that crippled horses, old broodmares, foals…all kinds of horses can be more involved in a person’s life and it doesn’t have to involve a saddle. That opens up so many possibilities for horse rescue programs! Wouldn’t you be much more interested in adopting a unrideable horse that you could interact with on more than a grooming or watching it out in the pasture, sort of way? I mention the ones that are unrideable because they are the hardest to adopt out. Most people want to be able to ride their horse.
Trick training allows Minnow to learn verbal cues AND sign language. Maybe I can teach him to write my blog posts for me…