Imogen and I had been getting Bronson ready for my lunge lesson when Pip came over to talk to us about something. Imogen was giving Bronson a bit of fuss and Pip pointed out that he was being dominant by coming into Imogen's space. He was doing it in such a nice way that it seemed as if he was just being loving, but the end result is the same. He was claiming Imogen as his. Obviously this cannot be, as is it important that our horse sees us as his leader. So Pip corrected him, then he tried it on again. Pip continued to correct him each time he invaded her space until he stood quietly and she was able to give him some fuss without him coming into her space. It was at this point that he started truly listening to her and paying full attention.
It was so interesting to watch and it made me realise how important it is not to give him an inch with this behaviour! I have big plans for Bronson and I and there’s not a chance in hell that we will achieve them if he isn’t listening to me. I have been getting much better at reading his body language when I am grooming him but it is clear that I have been letting him get away with invading my space. After all, a horse has such a great field of vision that he doesn’t need to turn his head around to see what you are doing! This is a common little excuse the voice in my head likes to use….even more ridiculous as Bronson only has one eye so can’t possibly be ‘looking to see what I’m doing’ on his right side!
So, from here on in I will be ensuring I am paying very close attention to his every move and will be really on the ball with correcting him. Especially as when I don't give Bronson leadership he gets very insecure and agitated. This is in stark contrast to the calm and contended horse he is when I am giving him leadership. The kind of closeness I want to enjoy with Bronson, true closeness, can only come from trust and we can only have that if he sees me as his leader.
I learned all this in my first lesson or two with Pip but of course it is so easy to lose sight of those fundamentals. And when we do? Nothing good can come of it. Being consistently consistent is a huge challenge in this day and age where we largely live on auto pilot but I’m committed to doing it, as that is what Bronson both requires and deserves.
In the photo above, Louise and her horse Beau are standing together with Beau respectfully standing in her own space.