Are you aware of your thoughts and intentions as you approach your horse with halter in hand? Our thoughts are incredibly transparent to horses and having an awareness of them can help your interactions with your equine friend. A story might help illustrate this more clearly. My own horse, Copper, likes to eat the loose hay on the ground in my small hay shed. I sometimes just put a halter on him and let him walk up the hill on his own to the hay shed.
This particular day I had gone to check on him as his foot had been sore after stepping on a rock. Putting the halter on him, I was thinking about him walking up the hill and eating the hay. But as I stood with him I could see that his foot was really bothering him. I didn’t think Copper would be comfortable walking up the hill, so I took his halter off and dismissed the idea, forgetting the clear picture I had in my mind of the whole scenario.
As I stooped to look at his foot again, Copper began nudging me with his upper lip. He rubbed it back and forth on my leg, my hip and my jacket and then even took the collar of my jacket in his teeth and pulled it gently! This was highly unusual behavior for him, being of a polite nature. When I reached for his foot, he pawed the ground vigorously a few times, keeping his foot out of my reach. I couldn’t figure out what he was trying to tell me in such a demonstrative fashion!
I went back to the house feeling baffled by the whole interaction. Much later it dawned on me that in fact my mental picture had been so clear to him that he was urging me to reconsider letting him out! I took the other horse out of the paddock and let Copper choose to come along without a halter. He had no trouble going up the hill where he enjoyed eating up the loose hay. I had to consider how deliberately he had tried to communicate with me that he liked my idea and wanted to go along with it. I wonder how many other thoughts swirl through my head unconsciously as I interact with the horses! Certainly this was a lesson in paying more attention to them.