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AndreaSctlnd 03-13-2012 12:31 PM

Affection or Dominance?
 
Hi everyone. If this is in the wrong place...:lol:

Last night I was at the barn and I had my girl in the cross ties. She was a MUDDY mess! So I was brushing all the mud off when I got to her back end. Now mind you, she didn't have her ears back and she wasn't showing me the least bit of attention while I was brushing her and yapping a mile a minute to her. Meanwhile, one of the other barn folks came in and we started talking. Well, I was sort of leaning in on Dee's hindend. Next thing I feel her leaning back in to me. As soon as I started to move, she stopped leaning. So, I continued on to the other side of her and got to her head. Well, I then stopped brushing as I got caught up in our conversation. I sort of had my hands on either side of her neck with my hands resting on each of her shoulders. The next thing I can feel her laying her neck on my shoulder and the only way to describe it was like she was hugging my neck/shoulder with her neck/jaw. And she was leaning pretty good. I didn't want to let this continue as I was not sure if it was affection or if she was trying to dominate me.

Any insight?

AQHSam 03-13-2012 01:10 PM

Sam will do this to me and I don't judge it as dominance. I think you really need to judge the situation in its entirety and not a single action.

For example, I will often stand in front and just to the side of Sam's shoulder and drape both my arms up and over his neck, which naturally places his head to my left side and over my shoulder. As I stroke his neck, I can feel him relax until at some point, his head is over my shoulder, with weight on me.

If I shift my body enough, he raises his head. He is not trying to move me or push me further to the ground. He is just that comfortable.

Same with the leaning. If I lean into him and we are obviously not working, meaning, it's all about comfort and affection, he will lean / brace into me while he enjoys the attention. As soon as I shift, or if I give him a cue to move to the side he immediately responds.

Before judging him as dominant, I would repeat the situation. Then, cue him to move from your personal space. How quickly did he respond? (First, make sure he is awake.)

I cue Sam to move by mimicking my leg on his side by gently nudging him.

I would say, enjoy the idea that your horse is comfortable with you to relax to that state of trust. If at anytime you think he is being too comfortable, cue him to move.

tinyliny 03-13-2012 01:36 PM

it is natural for horses to lean into pressure. Since you leaned first, she leaned back. I think her putting her neck on you was more a sign of being content and trusting.

Faceman 03-13-2012 01:57 PM

A horse laying its head across your (or another horse's) shoulder is a natural behavior, but not a behavior displaying doimance...or affection for that matter.

To a horse your shoulders are your withers. The withers area is a "calming zone" if you will. Horses will lay their heads across or against another horse, or gently nibble or "lip" at the withers area which produces a calming affect. Stallions will often use that calming tactic of facing a mare and stroking her withers as a prelude to swinging around and mounting. You can use it too...gently stroking the withers area can calm down a nervous horse in preparation for mounting - I formed the habit of doing it years ago before I mount as it tends to relax the horse prior to mounting...

AndreaSctlnd 03-13-2012 02:06 PM

Well that is kind of how I took it too. Because as soon as I stopped leaning or made any movement she immediatly stopped. But I have just read that sometimes this is a dominance thing, so I didn't want to be reinforcing a bad habit.

In all honesty when she had her head on my shoulder/back, it really did feel like a hug.

AQHSam - As I stroke his neck, I can feel him relax until at some point, his head is over my shoulder, with weight on me.

If I shift my body enough, he raises his head. He is not trying to move me or push me further to the ground. He is just that comfortable.


This is exactly how it was. I am glad that she is getting used to me. I go to see her almost every day and love her to pieces. She is a bit stand offish sometimes so this just makes me so happy!

Thanks!




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