how close is too close... - The Horse Forum
 71Likes
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 32 Old 04-06-2020, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
Weanling
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Europe
Posts: 664
• Horses: 0
Question how close is too close...

Well, I will admit that I like to be close (physically and emotionally) with animals. I feel that a dog or a cat or a horse quietly standing very close is connecting with you. I noticed how opinions differ greatly among horsepeople about this... I let the horse I ride come very close. He walks behind me very close and likes to gently touch my chest with his head (and remain there). I instinctively interpret this as a kind gesture and I think I feel what kind of 'energy' comes out of the horse. So I don't mind horses approaching me in a calm manner (I do mind when they push me, this is not okay). I often get all kinds of advice when riding and when working with horses but it's so difficult because everyone tells me something else and I try to rely on my instincts and the info I got from sources I respect (Monty Roberts).



I like a horse that gently stands close besides me. It makes me feel calm and accepted. Am I totally wrong here or missing something about dominance or intrusion of personal space?


what are your opinions?
loosie, secuono and Dustbunny like this.

The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out and meet it. (-Thucydides)
Jolien is offline  
post #2 of 32 Old 04-06-2020, 02:34 PM
Green Broke
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: SE Oklahoma
Posts: 3,787
• Horses: 8
I think it's like all things dealing with horses + people. It depends.

All my horses like to be close, and I like them close... when we're just chilling out in the pasture. I've never been stepped on or injured, but I have had to drive them away when they start squabbling out of jealousy and not let them back in close until they were behaving. There's no feeling like standing there and discovering they've circled up around you and are just standing there, waiting for their turn to have time with you.

Outback will stand and look over my shoulder when I'm working on something - mending a feed trough. Gina will every so quietly walk up behind me when I'm just leaning on a fence watching the sun set... and she will lay her head on my shoulder.

The Old Man gets in REAL close to be groomed and if I stop before he's done with me, he'll nibble my shirt sleeve and tug my hand back to him.

I have groomed and been groomed by our horses... regularly.

But we are very very familiar with one another. We're a herd. I know their language and when someone is getting antsy. I know who will get jealous and nip or start bickering. I know who is going to klutz around and maybe step on me... so I behave accordingly, all while being very relaxed while surrounded by 1100 lb animals with the intelligence of a toddler.

When we're loading in a trailer, walking through a gate, walking down the road on a lead rope, that sort of thing, I expect them to be close enough I can touch, but at elbow's distance away. If they can 'run into' my elbow, they're too close. They're expected to maintain a safe distance, stop when I stop, back up if asked while I back up... all without getting an elbow to the shoulder. The ONLY times I've been stepped on or jostled was when I put myself in a weird location in relation to the horse. It was squarely my fault for being a stupid human and it's never happened in a pasture social situation.

I expect them to stand a reasonable distance away and be still while being saddled, rather than antsing around all over the place - that's how you get knocked down or stepped on when it's work time - when they move in too close because they aren't paying attention.

Taking a break on the trail? I'm fine with someone laying a head on my shoulder or leaning in to me. I may be leaning on them. I may sit down at their feet. And I do so in complete trust.

AJ or Outback? They may swing their big ol' booty around and come at me backwards, dead on... not to kick, but want a butt scratching... and I know they're going to get in close... I don't mind it. I just admonish them when they try to take that one final step that's going to put them standing on top of my own foot.... usually a push or a poke in the rump and they get the point and hold still... and get their booty scrubbed.

A horse I just met, or isn't mine? I expect a respectful distance maintained at all times until I get to know them better, or until their person explains they're not nippy, just wanting to mutually groom, something like that. And I warn everyone about the Booty Scratches so they don't panic and holler and run away.

To me, where my own horses are concerned, I want them close and enjoy it. It's a matter of trust and they know it and reciprocate. They know there are times to pay attention and do work and keep an elbow's distance, and there are times to let down our guard and enjoy the company and physical presence of one another.

"We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us."
AtokaGhosthorse is offline  
post #3 of 32 Old 04-06-2020, 02:39 PM
Started
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: CenTex
Posts: 2,388
• Horses: 1
I let my horses in close. Out of all of them, Pony can be a little pushy, but when he gets that way I just take his head and push it away. If you can tell the difference between a nice, quiet closeness and pushiness, and you don't mind the nice quiet closeness, I Don't see any reason to refuse it.

"Saddle fit -- it's a no brainer!"" - random person
ACinATX is offline  
post #4 of 32 Old 04-06-2020, 03:10 PM
Super Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 11,825
• Horses: 0
There is a time and place for all kinds of communication to be exchanged.
Horses are very social animals, some more than others just like humans.
Horses are great readers of our body language and attitude...
They sense when they can and when they can not get close or be affectionate...
My own horses are that way too...
I am met every day at the gate to their field by my dominant guy...he wants to be acknowledged and say hello first, get a face scratch and pat on his neck then he follows me as I make the rounds to everyone else...no one is excluded from me saying hello...and I try to not follow a pattern or this one, then that one, then him and finally that him...
Sometimes I walk past my greeter to see my timid guy first and give him his attention special, then off to everyone else...
But they all know they can come close for scratches and hugs and that they can give them back "gently" too..
But... but a stiffening of my spine, a more loudly spoken word or a look and they step out of my space and take notice of what is being told to them.
They do not cross the line when told enough either...
Retribution is swift and hurts...I strike like a snake when warranted, when pushed to far by one of them and the others know to whom my "attitude" just changed sharply.
Those who are not in the sight-line of trouble continue on quietly, "the one" who violated the rules is also knowing he in BIG trouble with me and will leave my presence when told to do so and not return till beckoned...they watch closely for the ask back to return.
When they do return they come straight at me, head down almost submissive and soft approach, seeking out my hand for touch. They know they did wrong...once asked back there are no grudges held...clean slate.

All my horses know my command of "touch", which means touch my hand. I use this before each individual is permitted to eat their much wanted feed...they don't touch feed till told it is OK to do so...then a pat on the neck and I leave them to eat in peace.
A bit of reminder, softly & firmly sent that I am leader and to be respected...
But as leader I also allow that soft & fuzzy warm feeling as appropriate to occur with each and everyone of them...my dogs are no different and a look from me has a tail wagging crazy or a dropped tail and expression of uh-oh...
Again, it is me who allows or not...they do not push..they ask and they receive.


The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
horselovinguy is offline  
post #5 of 32 Old 04-06-2020, 04:40 PM
Showing
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 48,003
• Horses: 2
It depends. If the horse is next to you, but his thought is THROUGH you, off into the distance, then you may be in a dangerous position. If he is not really mentally ON you, then he may sort of forget that you are there and move over and on top of you if something scares him.


You see that when a hrose that is scared comes right up close to the handler. The handler thinks the hrose is trying to gain comfort from the human, and it might be so, but if the horse's mind is way out there, but his feet are right next to yours, he is not really gaining any comfort from you. Once you put his mind onto YOU , he will release that thought 'out there', and he will feel better. So, the hrose that comes in close when he's scared, and the owner doesn't do anything other than speak 'it's ok', is not doing enough to help the horse. They are just allowing the hrose to use the human body as a barrier. Who knows, this might help, but it does put the human in jeopardy.


In every situation where I am close to a hrose, I try to maintain that at least my feet are one 'jump' away from his feet. Even the sweetest horse might take that one jump, from a bee sting, or whatever, before they get their sense back and take care not to hurt you.
tinyliny is offline  
post #6 of 32 Old 04-06-2020, 05:44 PM
Yearling
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: London, UK
Posts: 1,407
• Horses: 1
I love being close but only with my mare who I know really well. She will always spook away or around me and never runs through me. She will come to me for comfort and protection. I am, however, VERY cautious where my legs and feet are. Swiping their belly with a hind leg at a fly can be really OUCH. But I'll drape an arm over her wither and rest my head on her rump as shes grazing. Its just like with people - how well you know one another and how comfortable you are.
AtokaGhosthorse likes this.
Kalraii is offline  
post #7 of 32 Old 04-06-2020, 05:59 PM
Green Broke
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: SE Oklahoma
Posts: 3,787
• Horses: 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalraii View Post
I love being close but only with my mare who I know really well. She will always spook away or around me and never runs through me. She will come to me for comfort and protection. I am, however, VERY cautious where my legs and feet are. Swiping their belly with a hind leg at a fly can be really OUCH. But I'll drape an arm over her wither and rest my head on her rump as shes grazing. Its just like with people - how well you know one another and how comfortable you are.

I love laying down with The Old Man on a sunny day and snuggling into him. Hard to get onto them for moving in close when we ourselves do it, eh?


He's a good napping pal - except he snores and dreams, so his feet kick out... and... that kinda hurts a little.

"We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us."
AtokaGhosthorse is offline  
post #8 of 32 Old 04-06-2020, 11:38 PM
Started
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Carousel Capital
Posts: 1,700
• Horses: 2
Very much depends on the horse and of course the situation. Each horse is different and its up to you to determine how much they can or can not get away with.

However, I usually always allow my horses to be physically close to me as long as they approach me with a calm demeanor. If they're coming up on me with a bit of an attitude or start sniffing around for treats, then they're going to realize very quickly that type of behavior is not allowed. If they come up to me for some scratches and attention, that is 100% allowed as long as they don't pull any sort of funny business.

If I'm leading them or doing any type of work in-hand then I expect them to keep a respectable distance away from me.

It really comes down to what you as a horsewoman/man feel comfortable letting them get away (or not get away) with. Any time we interact with horses we are training them. Some people rule with an iron fist others can be much more lenient, both ways work and both have pros and cons. The best we can do is try to do right for the horse.
Jolien likes this.
Wild Heart is offline  
post #9 of 32 Old 04-07-2020, 05:54 AM Thread Starter
Weanling
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Europe
Posts: 664
• Horses: 0
Most horses approach me without me asking them to do so, or at least not conciously... They come walking over slowly and stop next to me with their head down. I interpret this as a "hi, I wanna check out what's happening here". I then proceed to offer my fist and if they gently touch it I gently touch the horse back. If I stretch my hand to touch the horse and he looks away I leave him be because I think he is trying to tell me: I want to be near but don't touch me. When I approach a horse in the pasture I do so calmly and from the side. When I reach them I stroke their side and let them see what I am holding. I totally don't know why I do all this stuff like that, I just follow my instincts. :p



The horse I ride is really people oriented, he follows me around even after I let him loose in the pasture. He follows me and looks at me... when I am doing something he comes up behind me and starts sniffing and touching and checking out what I am doing, lol. He is so cute. The one time he was really afraid because the herd was afraid I saw him look at the herd, look at me and after that he lept towards me and tried to hide or something behind me. I know this could be a potentially dangerous situation. I am gratefull he never steps on me or runs over me in the rare occasions he is scared... I also tripped once and screamed, I saw him on alert and checking me out (I was on the ground and he was nearby in the pasture). I think he doesn't mean to hurt me and if this happens it will always be because of a miscalculation I make or a mistake I make.



I probably make mistakes in my horse handling, but I'd rather act calmly and overthink things first before I act...

The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out and meet it. (-Thucydides)
Jolien is offline  
post #10 of 32 Old 04-07-2020, 06:34 AM
Showing
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: OK
Posts: 13,942
• Horses: 9
I like my horses to come in close for a snuggle or a scratch in their favorite spots, but only at my invitation. Having 10 horses all around, jostling for position can get dicey, so they all know that they need to stay outside of my space bubble unless I initiate contact. And they all know what "HEEEEEEEEY, not while I'm here!" said in a gruff, growly voice means. That's usually directed at 2 youngsters who are trying to decide who's who on the pecking/scratching order. My husband says I pin my mare ears flat to my neck and snake my neck at them and they move off and do their wrestling for position else where.

My horses all like a good booty scrub and will back up to you, sometimes from a fair distance at an alarming rate of speed, I have to warn people that they are not looking to kick them to Kingdom Come but they want scratches. I'm another one who loves to snuggle down in the lee of a big round bale with one of my horses. I've snuggled down with one and we've both fallen asleep only to wake up with a protective circle around us. Now THAT is a lovely feeling! I've also crawled up on a round bale while they're eating and fallen asleep in a "nest" and had them be oh so careful not to wake or nip me while I slept ind their dinner.

When walking on the ground or doing anything else, not directly socializing, I do expect them to remain outside "my bubble" and to pay attention to my body language, just like I pay attention to theirs. They aren't allowed to crowed when I'm serving up their buckets, nor are they allowed to push me away to get to them. Once their buckets are laid, they are to come up and "shake hands" (give me a "fist bump"" with their nose) before I allow them to eat. Once we've shaken hands, I tell them, "good boy" and get out of their hair while they eat. They're also very tolerant of me coming in and disturbing them, I like to give vaccines while they eat, they never twitch and I can do them all without a halter and lead rope on. Same thing with deworming, they're take the syringe full and practically suck it out of the tube.

When I'm just standing around loving on them, I like them to mutually groom, rest their chin on my shoulder, chest, and I frequently will return the favor. So my thought is, it's more about how you control your space and the space you give them, than it is about a hard and fast "Thou shalt not .........................".

Dreamcatcher Arabians is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.



User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome