Come Out & Play! If You Want.

Voluntary participation.

Michelle Dennis really got me thinking about that one. And it’s a goody… Check out the post on her if you’re unfamiliar with who she is. Michelle goes and stands on a stump in her huge pasture in the Australian outback and waits. Waits to see which horse or, in most cases, horses come and choose to play with her.

Without a specific plan in mind, a training session will morph into shape as more and more horses, donkeys and dogs join the group. How is everyone’s mood today? Lots of energy? Or is it maybe too hot for a lot of running around? We have to fit and adjust those situations.

Problems arise when we force something to fit a mold, and only that one mold. When we find ourselves in a situation where nothing will work except for what we want, nothing good will come of it. Most of all, next time, they might not want to come and be with us. Your horse, dog, or human friend will turn their back and walk the other way if you always visit, only to boss them around and do what you want to do.

Do you honestly feel that your animal would voluntarily initiate spending time with you? Does your horse come running? Does your dog wag his or her tail so hard when they see you, that you think they’ll just lift up and fly away?

I tried it out the other day. What would go down if I just hung around until one of the horses joined me? It was a quiet day at the ranch, and I let two or three horses into the arena by opening the connecting gate to their paddock. Everyone trotted in and then stopped. Rolled, reached over the fence to eat grass, farted, you know…

When I stepped into the arena, everyone’s heads popped up with ears forward, waiting for me to invite them to come and play. Nope. I just waited. So all the heads went back down again to visit with the grass. Except one… My little mustang friend! Without me asking (I can’t remember if I was even facing her) she trotted over to me with a tiny, overly-excited neighhhh! Oh yay! So I am not despised…

What happened next was not what I had expected, but exactly what Michelle experiences every time she goes out to be with her horses. I began to play around with this mustang at liberty, no ropes attached, and played hard. We ran. We bucked. We farted… SHE farted… Then, when the blood was running, we began doing circles, spanish walk, and everything else.

One of the tall bay horses came over to watch. Then another. Then all three.

That evening proved what I’ve always found to be true: the best experiences with animals seem to come from simply allowing situations to arise and develop into what all the participants want it to be. That’s how you’ll get the most out of anything. If only one heart and mind is into it, then all the other ones won’t give it their best.

Try it out! Does your animal actually want to spend time with you? If you test it and you find that they don’t join you voluntarily, just spend time with them. Go out and sit, read a book… Whistle. Whatever you want, but don’t ask anything of them. When they do come over, do something interesting and fun!

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