When I started out learning about equine behaviour 15 years ago, I got the chance to spend a year studying, working and eventually teaching in California. That time, working with the world’s best teachers in equine behaviour, the horses themselves, changed my life and my perceptions of equine training methods forever. Those experiences with Mustangs, Arabs, Thoroughbreds, Quarter horses, mares, foals and colts changed me and ultimately set me on a path that led to working with horses, donkeys and mules all over the world.
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Ben Hart's blog
Sue Field recently wrote a blog about what more can we ask of foster owners? It is very exciting to be able to help people all over the country and indeed all over the world, to understand their donkeys and mules better, however, it is incredibly challenging to do so when you can’t actually see the behaviour itself to be able to understand exactly what is going on.
When I arrived at Dante’s pen this morning there was something wrong, fortunately not with Dante but rather with me. One of the biggest influences on equine behaviour is the mood and mindset of the person working with the animal. That is why it is so important to check yourself before you begin working.
It is a constant dilemma in my mind helping Dante as much as possible but without over reaching him, stretching his comfort zones as much as possible so that tomorrow I can start to train the team to work with him. So we try another session in the afternoon. He seems a little more unsettled again perhaps because the afternoon routine is beginning after the day’s human training course. Again I work with tiny steps to allow him to tell me if he feels it is OK to proceed and I can stop at any point he feels to uncomfortable.
So having woken up at 5am to think about what to do today to help Dante as you do, I got to El Refugio del Burrito early to see Dante’s behaviour before the morning routine began. Seeing him at different times of the day and in different situations means I have a better picture of his behaviour so I can be more certain about possible causes. After all, today I am planning to go in a paddock with an animal that could seriously injure me, so I really need to be able to read his body language really well and be able to feel his moods so I can predict when or if he is likely to attack.
So I thought I better send a quick update on Dante’s behaviour. Working with this type of problem always has you up nights thinking about what the right course of action is and what plan we might use to help Dante. The answer is of course always to let the donkey tell you what the right thing is to do.