Things to ponder...

Here's another great blog from Nadja, the German Natural Horsemanship Rider that I happen to stumble across on the internet.  It's truly refreshing to read her material, so out of the ordinary and thinking "outside the box".  Enjoy...

Do you remember the newsletter where I wrote about that arabian mare with the biting issues? This is what I wrote:

”Being bottle fed, the arab mare has been fixated on human hands from an early age and she shows quite a bit of aggression and unpredictable behavior. Sometimes, she’ll be very happy to have her face touched and groomed. Other times, she’ll root her head, come at you and try to bite you. If you use your hands too much, she’ll get agitated with her head. She has trouble to accept moving hands without expecting anything from them (good or bad). She has received too much food and too much beatings: Because people beat her when she becomes agitated and tries to bite.”

I got to know her in november and we had quite some issues. It was almost impossible to ask her to bend or shape head and neck from the ground as I was busy defending my hands against her attacks. So after these fights I wondered why her biting was so unpredictable and I came up with the idea that our hands were unpredictable for her too. So it was our part to become more predictable in order for her to do the same. I suggested to the friend who owns her to never smack her head and to never feed her out of her hands again. I wanted to neutralize the hand.

This horse is so smart

So now I am back from another visit and guess what: The unpredictable biting is gone - almost completely. She is still a very mouthy horse but her expression is soft.
What I also find is: She is one of the (if not the) smartest horse I know. Not only is she fearless but also able to build almost logical connections. Which gave us trouble with the biting issue. It wasn’t enough to not just feed her directly from the hands. We needed to make sure that she didn’t link our hands with food at all. So for example it wasn’t enough to just put an apple on the ground and then allow her to eat. If she was standing next to it, she would know that the hand delivered the apple and still link it with food.

Another observation: She is totally cool when putting the bridle on. To me, it feels like she knows this is not about her head but about the bridle. But she doesn’t like it too much if you try to steer her nose or head in a way that involves constant pressure. So for example, she still tends to root her head when she feels held by both reins too much and then tries to bite the rider’s (aka my) legs. But I am very confident that we can help her through it by slowly increasing and getting her used to it. I am happy with her progress and I am happy because I understand her better. I can relate better to her nature and her spirit.
When we first met, the first thing she did was try to turn the initial sniffing into a firm bite. When I worked with her on the rope, she refused to look at me and deliberately turned her head into the other direction. This time she sniffed me and investigated - but no nibbling and no biting. Plus - she chose to look at me. Not constantly but more often.

I hope this was of some interest for you - for me it was a huge experience.

Nadja