Thursday, February 17, 2011

More on touching

This is another “heads up” about a great radio interview. This week, my friend, mentor, and coauthor, Dr. Robert M. Miller, talks about his new book on handling the equine patient. Although originally written for veterinarians, vet students, and vet techs, the book is a treasure trove of useful tips for anyone who interacts with a horse for any reason. Pay special attention to our chat about touching the horse – the when, the how, and the why. Horse docs must regularly treat horses they don’t know, or worse, horses that have phobias about veterinary procedures. The approach and first touch that Bob describes is virtually the same as I use in my Two-Minute Introduction. Both reduce the horse’s natural uneasiness, pique his curiosity, and plant the seeds of trust. That’s a lot to accomplish in your first moments with a horse. Listen.

By the way, Bob celebrates his 84th birthday soon. If you feel like leaving him a birthday wish, you may do so at

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Road to the Horse Webcast

Oh, boy. This time next week I’ll be hosting Road to the Horse, the granddaddy of colt-starting events. Billed as a meeting of legends (Pat Parelli, Chris Cox, and Clinton Anderson), this year promises to be more exciting, more educational, and more entertaining than ever before. Maybe I’ll see you there … if you are one of the 6,000 lucky souls who snagged a ticket before they sold out. If you were a bit slow with your mouse, don’t despair. For $29.99, you can watch the three-day webcast on your computer. Follow the link for complete details. One way or another, I hope to see you next week. Woo hoo!
More on Road to the Horse
More on RTTH webcast

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Touching a horse

This week’s radio show features my interview with Sivia Gold, who describes a technique she calls the BIG Eraser. This is a way of touching a horse that triggers relaxation (my term) or erasing of negative memories at the cellular level (her term). In my opinion, this is one more example of the positive benefits that come from body-to-body contact with a horse done in a particular way. But let’s back up. Horses read your intentions and any potential threat you pose to them by reading your body language. When you touch them, they get an even stronger reading of you. The photo shown is one of Clinton Anderson using the Jeffrey Method in starting a young horse. After getting control of the horse’s feet and establishing a level of respect, Clinton lays across the horse’s topline and rubs its barrel, as did Australian Kell Jeffery in the past century. This calms a horse for reasons no one completely understands. My theory is that the more of your body a horse can feel, the quicker it learns to trust you and relax. Of course you need to be in the right mental state when you do this; if you are distracted or impatient, it may magnify the horse’s concern and make matters worse. There are a number of things we can do that nearly always help when we’re working with horses: Backing the horse, slowing down, lightening pressure, and increasing body-to-body contact. Even just touching the horse with your hand spread wide – “with your heart in your hand” as Pat Parelli might put it – nearly always helps. This is one of the easiest prescriptions for the horseman. After all, who doesn’t want to touch a horse? I can hardly keep my hands off of them. Listen to interview with Sivia Gold.