I was out in Bonsall, CA a few weeks ago, doing some work for that TV show I mentioned a while back. (Want to check me out in action? The show is called “Faithful Friends” and it’s on Animal Planet on Sunday mornings at 9:00 … my training segment is usually on within the first 10 minutes.) The show’s HQ is adjacent to a horse barn (hey, it’s California), and it’s impossible for me to go in to the office without stopping to say howdy to the lovelies. Now, I don’t know much about horses. I never contracted “horse mania” as a little girl, and I’ve only ridden twice, so they’re basically a mystery to me. But I think that my dog-sense gives me a leg up, so to speak, about how to act around horses. I like to make contact with them (who doesn’t?), but I think it’s important that the horse enjoys my touch as much as I enjoy offering it. On this day I experimented and really paid attention to the horses’ reactions to my petting. If they pulled away I immediately stopped, took a short break then tried a new approach. I discovered that both horses appreciated a medium pressure scratch right up in the “bangs”. (Horse people – is this true across the board?) This guy enjoyed some intense massage along the sides of his face and in his “cheek” region. He actually leaned in to the massage and said, “ahhhh!” He liked the massage so much that he followed me in and out of the barn for the rest of my visit! You don’t have to be a species-specific expert to understand what types of interactions are appreciated and what aren’t … if you pay attention, the animal will tell you.
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