My new mare loves a good rub or a scratch. New people often give her a firm pat on her neck and at the moment, she usually flinches. I've given horses pats my entire horsey life and it wasn't until I owned this new horse that I realized how much more valuable a soft stroke or a scratch is, at the very least, to this particular horse.
Are you a petter? A patter? Does your horse get the point that they have done something right with a firm pat on their neck?
most of the time I do pat their necks and the little hops and head shaking I take as them feeling good about what they just did. But more often then not I will squeeze their crest, going up and down their neck. I was told this is really relaxing for them (almost like a hug) because its what their mom's would do to them when they were wee little tykes.
I do more rubbing/scratching on the neck. Depends on the horse - some know what a pat means, had it all their lives, and I give gentle pats, too. I don't think many horses like the big huge whacks that some people give when patting a horse.
I do all, pat, pet, scratch, rub (but then again, I am a certified equine sports massage therapist). It depends on what the horse likes and here they like it. My two geldings like a pat on the rump, but my mare would give me a good cow kick if I did that to her. Yet they all love the "meat tenderizing" fist pound massage stroke on their rumps (it "warms up" the large muscle masses there), and the "karate chop" strokes on their back muscles.
I don't do the big whacking pats to any of them. Any everyday pats are very gentle, and usually up near the poll for some reason. Like after I put on the fly masks and I give them a light "pat, pat" and a "good horse" goes with it.
There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams
Interestingly, I was just noticing something in my mare.
We were jumping around and I made a course for myself. She was very up and excited and did not necessarily want to slow down.
We jumped the course, she did great and I patted on the neck, like I always do. Apparently that is the sign that we are done jumping and she went right down to a trot without any instruction from me. So, at least she knows when she is done working - not sure if she knows 'good girl' from the pat.
"Good girl' is usually a big rub up and down the neck, intermixed with patting. This is while riding.
Good girl in ground work is a scratch near the whithers.
Depends on the horse. I definitely have some that really do seem to like a good solid clap on the neck. Others like the gentle touch.
I have a funny story about that. I was riding in a clinic. My horse at the time was a big, solid, foundation-type appy with a thick neck. I finished my exercise and clapped him on the neck. Another clinic participant sidled over to me and said in a low voice, "Horses hate that".
It has become a joke in our barn. Couldn't ya just let ME decide what my horse likes and doesn't like? Is there no area that the opinionated know-it-all will stay out of? I could see if the horse had flinched or seemed in any way put off. But it was a reward commensurate with his conformation and outlook on life. Sheesh.
Arrange whatever pieces come your way. - Virginia Woolf
Did you know that if you say the word "GULLIBLE" really softly, it sounds like "ORANGES"?
When Ian Millar used to finish a round he would literally whack his horses on the neck - now I notice he merely pats them. That looked excessive to me in those days so I became more conscious of how a horse might feel, and now I'm more gentle with a scratch, rub or massage. Each horse has a special 'ticky' spot where they like to be rubbed (face) or scratched (wither/neck) etc., not to
forget bum, tail, rump or jowl, forelock.
I always used to pat/slap my horse's neck after a good ride. I have learned that petting/stroking feels better to the horse. For example, which would feel better to you? Say you've just worked out. Would it feel better to you if someone came up and slapped you on your just-worked muscle or stroked/rubbed it? This analogy sure made sense to me and I've been a "petter/rubber" ever since
Whatever suits me at the moment. I have a new mare who's very friendly but a little anxious and she seems to prefer rubbing and petting. The others are fine with some robust patting. I don't really think about it much. I do think they learn that, when being ridden, the "usual" 3-4 pats on the neck I give them along with "good boy/good girl" mean something specific, so I do that pretty consistently.
The filly I have been working on getting broke this fall was always a stroking rather than patting individual. She was freaky since she came out of her mom, couldn't even look at her at first, let alone touch her. It took three months for her to come to me, to sneak up behind me and touch me with her nose. Took another month before I could touch her without panic setting in. No reason for this, it just WAS this way. Basic ground training has been difficult, she over reacts to everything. But she's getting better.
This summer, the dentist came out and pulled her wolfies and floated her teeth prior to putting the bridle on her. I gave her a LARGE dose of atravet for this. He "patted" her, and even tranquilized, she didn't like it much. I explained to the dentist that "patting" wasn't her thing particularly, but I had been working on it, "patting" her with a single finger was the stage I was at. He did MORE patting while she was tranqed. In the following days, her aversion to patting had abated, and continued to be more accepting of a pat. I always think that if you CAN'T pat them, if they don't have the self confidence to accept a pat and know what it means, they are not ready to ride. I can now pat her adequately, and she knows what it means, but it's been a long learning session. Knowing now what a pat means, her self confidence has improved dramatically, and she has accepted the training much better. Laid over her back no problem before turning her out for winter.
For me and most of the horses I have known, it depends on the situation.
If I want to be reassuring or quietly rewarding, rubs work best. If we are building enthusiasm in a horse who is not shy of contact, a good strong pat can be appreciated and effective. Kind of like atheletes slapping each other on the butt. Its all in the context and knowing the receiver.