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Creating Connection By Hanging Out

Creating Connection By Hanging Out

Whether you’ve had your horse for a long time or they are new to you, Creating Connection by Hanging Out is a good place to start.  Think of it like making friends.  You will spend time with them without asking or expecting anything from them.  

Depending on your horse’s living situation, this might look like:  poo picking, reading a book or listening to a podcast whilst sitting (either inside or outside where they live) – depending on the type of horse you now know you have (day 2),  you might stand, you might meditate, or journal.  There are a lot of ways to create connection just by hanging out with your horse and this is a good starting place. 

As with every step along this journey, you will need to use your discretion.  

 – Pick the best time to do this, if your horse needs to get his energy out and runs around a lot, of course you would not want to be in there with him.  

 – You know whether you could do this while your horse has food or other horses around, you will need to decide these things as well. 

 – There are probably several other factors that you may need to consider, that Warwick cannot anticipate, so you will have to use your discretion. 

A reminder of how to use this course: click on Mark Complete below and you will be taken to the next topic.

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I started my mustang by “hanging out”. I drank tea, sitting on a leaf of hay, and had several piles of hay all over the paddock. He ALWAYS chose the hay I was sitting on. I started offering him pieces of the hay I was sitting on. Pretty soon he was touching me and using the hay as an excuse to touch me. Then he forgot about the hay and just touched me. Then we touched each other. Then we took walks around the paddock together, matching steps or him following me. Then we stood together and took naps. Then I started giving him touch on his body as he stood around. It took just shy of a month to get the halter on and another week or two to even deal with a lead rope, but THEN everything was possible. The pattern was established and this will carry forth most likely!

Warwick Schiller avatar Warwick Schiller (Administrator) November 23, 2023 at 7:18 am

Awesome work Maya!!!

Could one read aloud or talk to the horse while sitting in the pasture or should this hangout be silent?

Warwick Schiller avatar Warwick Schiller (Administrator) December 2, 2023 at 10:35 am

That would be fine

This one is where I’m going to donkey Kong to after today Q and A with you Warwick. Thanks

I’m trying to figure out where to sit when it’s below zero with a foot of snow on the ground! lol

Warwick Schiller avatar Warwick Schiller (Administrator) December 26, 2023 at 1:29 pm

A chair will keep your bum off the ground

Warwick, excited to get started on this with my new young gelding. He’s not great at personal space so we will be doing this with me outside of his stall today (and for however long he decides we need to). Can I do yoga as my way of hanging out? I know it puts me in the right frame of mind (per your video above) but am not sure if the movement would be a negative or not. Thanks!

Warwick Schiller avatar Warwick Schiller (Administrator) January 3, 2024 at 11:31 am

You could do that, but it may get him to where he’s not pushy when you are doing yoga, but when you are standing upright and approach him he may still anticipate being taken out, and be pushy.
Just try it and see.
good luck.

Cannot wait to give this a go!

My 18month old filly is on the extreme side of the draw-drive ratio so I get it, it is better to sit outside the fence. I have two questions;

a] She is very pushy and nippy, so do I sit far enough away that she cannot engage with me or do I let her engage with me and push her with my finger on her cheek when she gets nippy/too close?

b] What does success look like ? How do I know I am ready to move on and go into the paddock to hang out with her?

Warwick Schiller avatar Warwick Schiller (Administrator) January 3, 2024 at 11:38 am

a. Stand far enough away she cannot touch you, but close enough that she wants to.
b. When you show up outside the fence and she shows no interest in you.

Hello! Does the horse have to be on his own or being with another horse in the paddock OK?

Warwick Schiller avatar Warwick Schiller (Administrator) January 15, 2024 at 4:18 pm

You CAN do it with another horse, sometimes that can make it more difficult though.

Hi again,
Thank you for for advice [ 3rd Jan post] – much appreciated
Well after nearly 4 weeks of sitting outside the fence Misty our 18 month old filly
no longer rushes over to the fence when I arrive. In preparation for the next step and going into the paddock with her I have being practicing increasing my energy to get her to step back out of my bubble. The first time I tried it I started by visualising her going backwards but no response, then I increased my energy and did what I considered a small jumping jack . The result was she reared up on the stable with ears pinned. Since then I have continued to lower my energy and have found that even if I go move from standing still to standing on my toes she will pin her ears and lunge forward showing her teeth!!! If I just stand still outside the stable she wants to engage but is always very nippy. I offer her the palm of hand which she aggressively scrapes with her teeth while constantly moving about trying to get the side of my hand.

I really feel stuck – what do you suggest ?

ps: I had an Equine Dentist look at her and there is no physical issue

Warwick Schiller avatar Warwick Schiller (Administrator) January 20, 2024 at 11:24 am

You mention going into her paddock, but then you mention stable?
What exectly is her living set up?
“If I just stand still outside the stable she wants to engage but is always very nippy. I offer her the palm of hand which she aggressively scrapes with her teeth while constantly moving about trying to get the side of my hand.”
You not stuck, but you ARE going to stay at this spot until it changes for the better. Actually id go back to standing there but far enough away that she cant touch you

Hello Warwick,

Is it okay to do more than one hanging-out session with my horse in a day?

-Olivia

Warwick Schiller avatar Warwick Schiller (Administrator) March 15, 2024 at 11:18 am

Sure is!

Hi Warwick,
I just wanted to follow up with my previous comment. Today I tried going into my horse’s paddock. He came to greet me as usual, but then left soon after I sat down. So I went into his paddock to see how that went. He didn’t come over for a long time, but when he did, he came over slow and relaxed, stopping maybe four feet away. Then he stretched his nose out to sniff my knee, and then tried to bite my knee, so I reached out my hand so that he could engage with my hand instead (before subscribing to the video library, I had watched all your YouTube videos about biting/nipping horses, as my gelding is very mouthy and learned about engaging with their muzzle). He engaged with my hands for a while but then ended up getting a couple fingers in his teeth. He is very chompy and quickly moves his head back and forth when engaging and sometimes I’m not quite quick enough moving my hands. Then he started getting pushy so I went back outside the paddock. Later I noticed blood blisters and a couple of bruises on my palms…he scrapes his teeth so hard. So I’m wondering, did I have the right response allowing him to engage when he came up to me? Do you think it’s too early to go inside his paddock? And any tips on protecting your hands when they engage with you?
-Olivia

Warwick Schiller avatar Warwick Schiller (Administrator) March 17, 2024 at 9:54 am

Hi Olivia
With this horse I’d watch “What to do when they want to engage too much”. You have got him to the point to where hes not so eager to see you that he meets you at the gate and pushes into you, so that is a great start,

Hi Warwick,
Thanks! I watched that video and gave it a try with my horse. When he comes up to me, he’s already opening his mouth to bite and tends to get pushy. Walking right past him sometimes works, but usually, he reaches out to bite me as I walk past, blocks me by turning in front of me (which sometimes involves rearing), or just follows me and is right there behind me and in my space when I turn around. So I always end up outside of the paddock again. And he’s great when I’m outside the paddock! No pushing on the fence, he comes and rests with me and will leave for a while, then come back. I’ve practiced a few of the breathing exercises with him outside the paddock and we’ve had some lovely sessions.

Also, I should point out that in his living conditions currently although he is next to another horse, he isn’t in with any other horses and is unable to be out to pasture due to it being soggy from our winter weather. He does have a small paddock but it’s not big enough to run around in. So, no exercise with me not riding and working on the connection. His only outlet is me. Will that make a difference in how he interacts with me? I feel bad that he can’t go out to pasture and be a horse and isn’t getting exercise. I know he’s so happy when he gets to run and play.
Advice on next steps with him?

Thanks very much!
Olivia

Warwick Schiller avatar Warwick Schiller (Administrator) March 26, 2024 at 9:20 am

” or just follows me and is right there behind me and in my space when I turn around.”
If you straight past their hip, you will end up with a horses length lead on them. Make sure you stop and turn while you still have that distance, dont wait until they catch up to you.

Thanks, I went out again today and made sure that I was walking straight past his hip, then turned around while I still had that distance. That helped a lot. However, when I walk past him as he’s approaching and I can tell that he is going to run over me, or if I try to walk past as I’m engaging and he gets too rough, he’ll rear up at me and block me from walking past him. A couple times he spun around and kicked at me as I walked past too. What should my response be when he blocks me? Do you think it would be better to move on to the Creating Connection by Change in Focus exercise so that I can redirect his attention with the flag? Or would it be better to go back to hanging out outside the fence? Thanks for your advice.

Warwick Schiller avatar Warwick Schiller (Administrator) March 28, 2024 at 11:08 am

In that case only work with him through a fence

Okay, thanks! So does this mean if he comes over to the fence to say “hi” when I’m hanging out outside the fence, and he reaches out to me, I can let him engage with me? Or should I just hang-out outside the fence and just observe like I have been doing? Thanks! How will I know when I’m ready to go in and try hanging out inside the paddock again?

Warwick Schiller avatar Warwick Schiller (Administrator) March 29, 2024 at 9:42 am

I probably wouldnt go in there until he longer comes over to say hi

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