This is an incredibly important lesson and the attention to this detail will be fundamental to your horse’s side of the partnership.
“Pay attention to me please” starts when your horse is loose in the paddock when you are doing nothing with them at all, maybe just doing chores, but the philosophy of this is incredibly important to your halter work and again in your ridden work.
If you have your horse in a herd with others on agistment, this is an excellent low key lesson that can be done for your safety with other people’s horses.
Keys to Success
1. LIVE this lesson – it’s a mutual gentle awareness, a way of life.
2. For those of you who don’t get much time to work with your horses every day, helping your horse live their routine with you with no nerves or anxiety, eliminating every Not Quite Right around food and this Pay Attention to Me Please Lesson will have you increasing your relationship with your horse, your bond with your horse and will have a positive effect on your riding no matter how little time you get to spend with them – IF you live it.
3. For those who don’t get to feed your own horses, you can set this Lesson up artificially during the day with a small pile of nice hay somewhere.
Written Version of the Audio
There’s another element to keeping ourselves safe that says to our horse “keep your attention on me so that we CAN keep each other safe”. It says to our horse that THEY are responsible for knowing where we are, no matter what we are doing and they are responsible for keeping up their end of the keeping-safe partnership.
By this point in your Program, you have made a commitment to your horse to help them be and feel safe – this is THEIR end of the bargain.
There are some techniques that you can use to ask for this, but this is about a lot more than techniques – it is a way of life. It is a tuned into your horse awareness and your horse tuned into you that becomes a way of life. And it is another important part of the Yin and Yang balance that we talked about in the last lesson, the advanced My Grass game.
One of the techniques that you can use to foster this awareness is whenever you are moving around your horse in the paddock, doing chores or whatever – you want your horse to notice and know where you are at all times. Just like YOU want to notice where THEY are and what they are doing at all times.
This is not about being alert. It’s a gentle awareness – it’s part of the connection that you notice where they are and what they are doing and they do the same.
I taught my granddaughter Bree to do this when she was a very little kid moving around the paddock.
EVERY horse in the herd had to have a gentle awareness of where she was in the paddock and if they didn’t have a relaxed eye on her, an ear flicked pointing at her, then Bree had to do something about that. Smooch, slap her leg gently, even swish her little stick around until the horse that had no attention on her whatsoever was looking at her. And then she would say “thanks Bobby!” or “thanks Sunny!” or whoever and keep walking.
You see, I knew that there wasn’t a horse in my herd who would hurt that tiny little girl on purpose – but I also knew that accidents could happen when there was not enough awareness of where she was.
I started to do the same thing in the yards when I was feeding out. Even though the horse was eating, they STILL had to have a gentle ear on me – an awareness of where I was moving around their yard and if they didn’t, I would smooch, clap my leg, whatever just to say “hey – I’m in here, keep half an eye on me so that if anything happens you know where I am and you can keep me safe”.
There is no dominance in this – it’s a gentle awareness of each other – but it IS an insistence of gentle and relaxed awareness of each other that is part of the Yin and Yang of our relationship. You could look at this like the equal exchange if you like, to the effort that you are putting in to your horse to help them feel and be safe. This is THEIR part of that bargain to keep YOU safe.
With some horses, you will need to ask for this gentle awareness of where you are at all times.
If you can FEEL that awareness on you then that is OK. You can also SEE that awareness on you when your horse has an ear gently flicked into your direction even if they are looking away from you.
If your horse jumps to attention when you smooch or clap your leg or swish your stick, then I would suspect that there is still some anxiety there and you could maybe back away and help them create a Comfort Zone.
And if we don’t need to ask for this gentle awareness of us because our horse is giving it to us already, then we need to notice it and acknowledge it and appreciate them for it.
There is a gentle power about this one – a standing tall, KNOWING that we are worth keeping safe.
And this continues on into when the lead rope is on or when we are in the saddle.
THEIR awareness and OUR awareness – the connection between the two is what will enable BOTH of us to keep each other safe. So if EITHER of us drifts off because we’re talking non stop and not listening or if our horse is over focussed on food – THEN WE ARE NOT IN THAT CONNECTED SPACE TO BE ABLE TO KEEP EACH OTHER SAFE.
Can you see how this ties in with the advanced My Grass Game of the last lesson?
In our next Lesson we will talk about how to do this when your horse is in a halter and lead. But for now, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to go do some chores around the paddock or field or yard at feed times and at other times too – and notice whether your horse is gently aware of you at all times and do something to ask for that awareness if it’s not there and appreciate them if it is.
Smooth hands can both avoid and release defensiveness and bracing in your horse, producing a horse who comes with you smoothly and willingly. Find out in Lesson 31 how it all starts in the way that you handle them on the ground!