Teachable Moments with Horses

Recently I was watching as Doc worked Kate, one of our Suffolk mares. As he helped her through an anxious moment, I was struck by how easily Doc was able to help her through this time of concern, and actually use it to help build Kate’s confidence. How often do we miss these opportunities with our horses? I thought I would share what I observed here on
Doc’s Blog.
While ground driving, Doc noticed that Katey reacted fearfully in a familiar area. She had been through the area many times in the past, however, Doc knew she had not seen or been in the area covered with snow, and she had never seen the newly installed snow-covered sign at the side of the gate. Kate’s fearful reaction to this sign told Doc what he and Kate needed to focus on in that moment.

This photo shows Doc encouraging Kate to examine the sign. He gave her the consideration to gather her own information about this sign. Doc lets her see and smell the object that caused her to worry. Rather than force her to approach the object or ignore her concerns (which could create more fear or greater concern for the horse), Doc allowed Kate the choice to check it out, take a closer look and gain understanding.

Giving our horses the opportunity to check out a worrisome object, helps their understanding that this thing need not be feared, therefore building the horse’s confidence and trust.