At the stables where Scooter lives, we will be having a modified version of Extreme Cowyboy Day this upcoming weekend in which horses will be exposed to tarps, flags, obstacles and numerous challenges. It will be a day of fun and learning for all. We’ve already started introducing the horses to some of the stuff….today Scooter met the scary flag and the giant stuffed Teddy Bear with cow bells around his neck.
Normally a very quiet fellow, he had a difficult time feeling comfortable with these foreign objects. Taking my time and reassuring him each time he relaxed, we were able to not only introduce these new experiences to him, but help him overcome his instinctive equine flight response. After a short time, he had made friends with the Bear, allowing me to place it on his back. The flag….well, we’re still working on that.
So very much like us, animals appreciate patience and love to help them turn potentially frightening experiences into fun, playful ones. It’s all in how we approach it. By remembering that they experience sometimes far more complex emotions than we do and by using compassion and lightness to help them work through confusing situations, we grow closer to them….and they in return learn to trust us in times of need.