I've heard of doing 'circus tricks' with your horse.... I guess... I never thought to teach my horses to do circus tricks. What for? I thought it was dumb or pointless.
Some people teach their horses to bow. 'Oh, isn't that cute'. Again, I didn't see the point other than for entertainment.
That was my opinion until I talked to Capt. Gary Lane last week, another Toklat Myler Ride Team member who trains gaited horses and rehabilitates problem horses.
What I realized after talking with Gary was that teaching a horse to bow or in particular to lay down on command was a great way to get a horse to really respect and trust it's handler.
As horse people know, horses are quite vulnerable while laying down. Other horses will often stand guard.
It's not easy to get some horses to want to lay down initially. And I was surprised to see a lot of youtube videos on laying horses down.
So I believe and have now found out that laying a horse down and then really 'loving on' the horse while down, will build incredible respect and trust in the horse. It's amazing.
Caution While Learning To Lay a Horse Down
Remember the TV saying, 'Please do not try this at home' when they were showing dangerous stunts put on by stuntmen? This is similar.
I've laid 4 horses down now and at times, I was really hopping. Dodging flying hooves or whirling horses as they tried to not lay down. Someone doing this will have to be quick on their feet to avoid safety issues.
And certainly for the safety of the horse, it's important where and when you ask the horse to lay down. It looks simple but there is a fair bit to it when you take into consideration safety and the horse's mental and physical welfare.
Emphasizing My Point
I do want to emphatically state that it could be 'tricky' to do if you're not careful especially the first few times. Once the horse knows how to lay down on cue then I don't think it's much of a concern other than staying out of their way.
Horses, who seriously refuse to lay down should be left to trainers to teach. This is where you have to know the disposition of your horse. A very willing, nice tempermented horse would be more accepting of you asking them to lay down. A more wilful, stubborn or really disrespectful horse could possibly put up a fight. I have to see if I can get the link to a Clinton Anderson youtube video where he puts a bad minded horse down to teach respect. It was amazing. Does someone know the video I'm talking about?
I believe this is a good next step after Round Penning for Respect. If you have respect issues, it helps. I also think it's a good idea as an advanced groundwork exercise for all horses. I will certainly teach all my horses to do it.
Lastly, thanks to Blondie as the subject of the great photo shot above. She was enjoying me rubbing her forehead after she laid down. Thanks to Dr. Chantal Spleiss for taking the photo.
Putting My Spin on Building Trust & Respect