Bonding Without Domination
Australia's own renowned horseman and author John Chatterton has spent the last 40 years working with young and problem horses. He enjoys passing on his knowledge to his clients, creating better relationships for horses and their owners.
John believes that horses have a great need for a comfort zone. He bases his training on affiliative leadership rather than dominant leadership, so that the handler or rider becomes the comfort zone for the horse.
We've been made to believe that we need to be higher in the pecking order which means we use body language to move the horse out of our space the same way a dominant horse moves his mate away from the feed bin.
When there are more than two horses at feed time, the second horse will challenge the third horse and so on. If you buy a mare to include into your herd, she will challenge your horses to be higher in the pecking order and this is not what a true lead mare is all about.
John hosts regular one, two and sometimes three day Clinics all over Australia. When he is working away from home base he frequently allows a spare day or so on either side of a weekend Clinic to be available for private lessons.
We've found that people often want to spend some one-on-one time with John to consolidate what they have learned, and private lessons are a great way to do this.
Foals are very easy to handle on the day of their birth, as they are not aware of the danger around them. I have seen foals walk straight up to a dog and try to smell and play with it. The foal has no idea that the dog could hurt or even kill it.
As they grow, horses have a natural instinct to run away from something they are not sure of, they are flight animals. Flight is their way of solving the problem of fear. When the foal is being born I don't like to interfere too much.
The first and most important step for safely loading and transporting a foal is to teach him how to relax and accept being handled. Have a helper hold the mare on a halter just a few feet away from the foal.
It is important that the foal is facing the mare while you are doing the early training so they both feel secure and unthreatened. You next need to train your foal to walk forward by placing your arms in a cradle position around him (in front of his chest and behind his rump), taking care not to hold tightly.