Reading horse body language can be challenging. It means we have to be very aware, very present, taking everything into consideration.
I always try to involve an animal in their treatment. I like to get a confirmation with the animal that the treatment I am suggesting is appropriate. Animals know what they need and their body language speaks volumes when we bother to observe and ‘listen’.
My mare summed it up quite nicely for me, recently.
She has been lame for some time. Not badly, but enough to need attention. She seemed to disapprove of every remedy I showed her. She’d sniff at the bottle then walk away.
So back I’d go to the drawing board and start again.
After a while, I thought that I couldn’t be THAT bad a prescriber, so started looking for why she might be refusing every remedy.
Although she is dominant, being the mare, she allows her favourite gelding to push her around a bit. He likes to know what’s going on. He wants to poke his nose in and see why I am attending to another horse and not to him.
Finally, the penny dropped. Of course she was walking away. She didn’t want to be disturbed. Once I realised that, I followed her as she walked away from the inquisitive gelding. When she stopped, in a safe and undisturbed place, I walked up to her from behind and stopped at her shoulder. She curved her head round my body and opened her mouth!
You need to learn to be very open to the obvious, as well as to the difficult, puzzling reasons why an animal is sick. But learning about reading horse body language is endlessly rewarding in more ways then one.
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