The Horse Forum banner

1 - 20 of 32 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
884 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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?:|
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,787 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,538 Posts
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.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
14,747 Posts
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.

:runninghorse2:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
49,436 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,878 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,787 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,700 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
884 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,333 Posts
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 .........................".
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,787 Posts
I think what we're all saying is, yeah. It depends. And you don't have to be a hard nose about your space.

Personally, I find people that react badly to a horse being in their space, except when it's time to do work... are either insecure, lack confidence, or have a tremendous ego. Or all of the above. Any true horseman or horsewoman I know has absolutely no problem being physically close to their horse and vice versa. I don't see them shanking the horse to back them up, I don't see them yelling or chastising the horse. I don't see them doing anything other than standing quietly, sometimes with an arm draped over their horse's back or neck... be it at a rodeo or a group of well seasoned trail riders.

Their horse is family, and family is allowed in close when appropriate.

The ones I see that are a hard nose around their horse when the moment calls for a quiet friendship, or even a quiet working relationship usually turn out to be the most disagreeable types of people.


ETA: I genuinely feel sorry for people who refuse to relax and let their horse into their bubble, during the quiet moments. They're missing out on one of the absolute best aspects of horsemanship. It's not the trails that I love most about being out with my horse. It's the horse and their presence.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,325 Posts
With horses (like most other things) Always and Never really don't fit. I often let my horses in close to me but other times not. Depends on what they are doing mostly. If they seem to want to be jerks then no. A lot of times the four of us (my three mares and myself) hang out and groom each other.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
884 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
oof I am happy to read most people here are thinking the same about it. I see a lot of riders just 'use' the horse as a vehicle or their hobby... I don't think it works like that and I also don't think never allowing them to touch you is a good move... :) In my experience most animals that are normal (I mean not orphaned or abused) will not initiate an agressive approach without any reason... So I always expect the best from a horse that comes near me.



Now I know me and the horse I ride practically spooning eachother is fine, hehe. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,787 Posts
oof I am happy to read most people here are thinking the same about it. I see a lot of riders just 'use' the horse as a vehicle or their hobby... I don't think it works like that and I also don't think never allowing them to touch you is a good move... :) In my experience most animals that are normal (I mean not orphaned or abused) will not initiate an agressive approach without any reason... So I always expect the best from a horse that comes near me.

Now I know me and the horse I ride practically spooning eachother is fine, hehe. :)

If I wanted that, I'd have bought a four wheeler/atv/or side-by-side. They eat less, have less travel papers required, and less likely to be in a foul mood just because.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
49,436 Posts
It is so true that being physically close to such a large animal is really soothing to a horse lover. They are so big, and yet so gently most of the time. They smell good, they feel good to touch, there isn't anything to NOT like (how many negatives was that?)


Today, the neighbors were out playing on their backyard trampoline, and the father was throwing the little girls around, growling like a big scary beast, and they were all giggling, loving it. It made me remember how much I loved being up next to my father, who was big, and strong, and capable of doing harm, . . . but never did. it was the best place to be.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
768 Posts
It is so true that being physically close to such a large animal is really soothing to a horse lover. They are so big, and yet so gently most of the time. They smell good, they feel good to touch, there isn't anything to NOT like (how many negatives was that?)


Today, the neighbors were out playing on their backyard trampoline, and the father was throwing the little girls around, growling like a big scary beast, and they were all giggling, loving it. It made me remember how much I loved being up next to my father, who was big, and strong, and capable of doing harm, . . . but never did. it was the best place to be.
Tiny, I have to giggle say a horse smells good and feel good. I too think that a horse smells good! I have had people come up and say pew! They stink!. Not to me, to me a horse has a pleasant smell and even horse manure doesn't really stink. Now pigs and cattle, especially in confinement stink. You mentioned your father, I too thought the world of my Dad and if I could only talk to him now I would give about anything.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
742 Posts
Tiny, I have to giggle say a horse smells good and feel good. I too think that a horse smells good! I have had people come up and say pew! They stink!. Not to me, to me a horse has a pleasant smell and even horse manure doesn't really stink. Now pigs and cattle, especially in confinement stink. You mentioned your father, I too thought the world of my Dad and if I could only talk to him now I would give about anything.
People stink. Horses do not.
To me (I'm a 1 on the horse expert scale though) the more I groom, touch, apply Wipe, eye drops, etc. is gaining trust. I talk and I swear they understand me.

Sent from my SM-S320VL using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
768 Posts
@ksbowman . . my dad was not a rancher/farmer, and I didnt' grow up poor, but I feel this song describes my late dad in many ways:


https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=he's+a+pretty+good+man+if+you+ask+me
Tiny that's a really good song. My great grandfather was a farmer and horse trader, Grandfather was a dairy farmer class B, My father was an ironworker that set structural steel (he skipped the farm a generation), I too was an ironworker for 38 years and bought our ranch while I was working. I couldn't do the ranch justice till I retired 15 years ago. My dad was an extremely good wrestler in school and I saw him back several bullies down at work, he had no fear. Sounds a lot like your father. The only time I saw my father run was when a little sister of mine fell in a deep lake and he saved her. What a mentor was he! RIP Pop!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,547 Posts
I usually let my horses get close. You have to be close to groom them, check their feet, saddle, bridle, etc.

Some of my horses like me more than other. My main mare is the most attached to me. She is also the only one of the 4 that has ever kicked or bitten me deliberately.

I was standing very close to my gelding, Dylan, trying to take a selfie. My husband appeared out of nowhere. He spooked and knocked me flat. I wasn't hurt. I guess it shows that accidents can happen. I am not going to be afraid of standing by Dylan. He is a sweetheart.
 
1 - 20 of 32 Posts
Top