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Knowing our histories

 

So often, as horse owners, we buy a horse and don’t know her history. We don’t know why she’s afraid to be touched in certain places or looks angry and defensive when you ask her to back up. If we’re patient, we watch and see if we can identify the difficult triggers so we can help them learn a new response. It does take patience! Our horse, Sophie, is deathly afraid of water on her body. Every summer I pledge to give little experiences of water on her legs or back to show her it won’t hurt her. Every summer she gets a little more receptive. I see her trusting me more and more during these moments. A little water, a treat and pat, a little water, another treat and a pat. She knows I’m understanding her fear.

 

It occurs to me that with horses I do this naturally. I try to read the signals so that I can understand and help with the fear or distrust. With people, sometimes we don’t consider the patience needed to allow for unknown histories. We don’t watch the signals, we just react to the behavior. The range of possibilities is endless, and obviously we can’t spend all day trying to figure other people out, but we can step back and observe, take a breath, and consider how to best move forward with this person.

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