by Mary Gallagher
|Pecan responds to Mary while keeping an eye out|
Imagine standing on the ground, watching a horse in the process of spooking. What can we observe?
- Thought exits: “Yikes! What is that spooky thing?!” Their mind goes blank—run! They turn around, get ready to run again—head up, lots of blowing.
- Thought returns: They turn around, freeze—stand still (testing the stop) run again, stop without freezing, take a few steps. Then—
- Extend nose, while blowing and smelling.
- Stretch and reach with nose and neck.
- Cautiously move in the direction of the nose, engaging the feet.
Spooking is something all horse people have witnessed, but I’ve made a point here to break it down to predictable components—sort of a slow motion camera to show the process. We can expect this pattern in a spooking situation, and that kind of predictability gives us options, if we can train ourselves to 'observe, observe, observe'. Now extend that expectation to all horse behavior. What if every movement is the horse testing to see if it is safe to linger or better to leave...?