Horses in draught being touched
Do you touch a horse on the shoulder or neck first before, say, heading a horse or grabbing a rein, etc? Or let it see you first before touching it on any part of its body?
My experience is limited to only a few of my own animals, and largely to the one I'm currently driving. My horse was extremely spooky and nervous when I first started driving him, so I encouraged a lot of people to pat him and touch him everywhere on his body. Now, when we're out and about, people routinely come up and pat the cute horsey on the hip or shoulder or neck. He's morphed into a very loveable horse and truly appreciates the attention.
This has also had a great benefit of making him EXTREMELY solid about being touched by anything anywhere on his body, which comes in very handy given some of the places we go and trails we drive. Ridden horses that are nervous seeing a horse and carriage for the first time can come up to get a better look (and some have gotten away from their riders and snuffed or bumped him, for which he stands like a rock, thank goodness!!), or branches, leaves or acorns can fall on us while in the woods, etc. All manner of things can brush or bonk him and he's completely solid about all of it.
The only major drawback I have though is that the touch of my whip is not as effective as I would hope some days :lol: He's not snappy and responsive, I get more of a 'what? really? .... now?' :lol: Though we had a whip issue history to overcome, I realize this must be in large part due to my over-desensitizing him.
I never gave this much thought until I took a lesson with a pro and her extremely well trained horse. When she asked me to go head the horse, I absent mindedly patted it on the neck as I got to its head... as its what I've done a thousand times with my own. The horse really jumped at being touched. I was shocked and quickly apologized.. and was quickly told don't EVER touch a horse until you get to its line of sight first. :o
Her horse was VERY responsive to the whip, which made him a delight to drive (among other reasons of course, simply lovely animal).
So it got me thinking.... what is correct? Is it a matter of preference? Do owners of competition horses like to keep them sharper to sensations, while pleasure drivers like myself prefer the more tolerable animal?
I've been wondering about this for a while, looking forward to your thoughts.